The staff at Qualitown Thrift Store in Campbell River pose for a photograph. Every second and fourth monday of the month, they will be welcoming homeless people to come and take things that they need from the store. Binny Paul photo

The staff at Qualitown Thrift Store in Campbell River pose for a photograph. Every second and fourth monday of the month, they will be welcoming homeless people to come and take things that they need from the store. Binny Paul photo

’Ask and you shall receive,’ store says to homeless Vancouver Islanders

Campbell River thrift store offers free shopping for the homeless to deter theft

Tired of break-ins, a Campbell River thrift store is opening its door to homeless people to shop for free two days a month.

On Dec. 14, Caroline Bleaney the store manager of Qualitown Thrift Store on Shoppers Row, had warm food that she had prepared waiting for the homeless people who would walk in to the store.

By mid-morning a few of them came by, took what they needed and got a home cooked meal that Bleaney had made for them.

“They picked up socks, jackets, blankets – warm clothes mostly,” said one of the Qualitown staff.

Every second and fourth Monday of the month, the store plans to continue with this program. The idea was Bleaney’s solution to solve the “constant theft issues” at the store.

“We kept having break-ins and we saw people taking away things through the CCTV recordings,” Bleaney said.

So she decided to address the “root” of this issue with a Christian principle: “Ask and it shall be given unto you, seek and you shall find it, knock and the doors shall be opened,” Bleaney quoted scripture, explaining the concept of ‘homeless Mondays’ at Qualitown.

The staff at the store also see the program as a way to get together with the homeless people, hear them and understand their problems.

“We want to create an avenue for them to ask for what they need,” she said.

After the COVID-19 pandemic began, even social workers faced a dilemma when it came to handing out clothes to homeless people because of safety protocols aimed to curb the spread of the virus. When the thrift store reopened after the first wave lock down, Bleaney realized that they could give out the donated products at the store that were already sanitized.

The store management and the community of Campbell River has been supportive of Bleaney’s initiative, she said.

The bigger picture is to help get people out of the streets, “one person at a time.”

So even if five people can be helped through what we’re doing it can create a ripple effect of change in the future,” she said.

The menu for the next open house – to be held on Dec.28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m – is already planned.

“It’s going to be spaghetti and meatballs,” Bleaney said excitedly.

Campbell RiverHomeless

Just Posted

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

CVRD to increase enforcement after audits reveal that curb-side recycling contamination in the district is well above acceptable limits. (File photo)
CVRD reports contamination in recyclables well above acceptable levels

Increased enforcement planned starting this summer

Municipality of North Cowichan.
Council acknowledges National Indigenous Peoples Day

Recommendations received for prioritization of the updated Climate Action and Energy Plan

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

North Cowichan’s committee of the whole have rejected staff’s recommendation to limit the use of fireworks to Halloween. (File photo)
North Cowichan rejects limiting fireworks to Halloween

Municipality decides staff recommendation would be unpopular

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Indigenous rights and climate activists gathered outside Liberty Mutual’s office in Vancouver to pressure the insurance giant to stop covering Trans Mountain. (Photo by Andrew Larigakis)
Activists work to ensure Trans Mountain won’t get insurance

Global campaign urging insurance providers to stay away from Canadian pipeline project

In the first election with public money replacing corporate or union donations, B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau and B.C. NDP leader John Horgan take part in election debate at the University of B.C., Oct. 13, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. MLAs ponder 2022 ‘sunset’ of subsidy for political parties

NDP, B.C. Fed call for increase, B.C. Liberals have no comment

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Investigators use a bucket to help recover human remains at a home burned in the Camp fire, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, in Magalia, Calif. Many of the missing in the deadly Northern California wildfire are elderly residents in Magalia, a forested town of about 11,000 north of the destroyed town of Paradise. (AP Photo/John Locher)
‘Forever War’ with fire has California battling forests instead

Five of the state’s largest-ever blazes seared California last year, as authorities tackle prevention

Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto and IOC President Thomas Bach, on a screen, speak during a five=party online meeting at Harumi Island Triton Square Tower Y in Tokyo Monday, June 21, 2021. The Tokyo Olympics will allow some local fans to attend when the games open in just over a month, Tokyo organizing committee officials and the IOC said on Monday. (Rodrigo Reyes Marin/Pool Photo via AP)
Tokyo Olympics to allow Japanese fans only, with strict limits

Organizers set a limit of 50% capacity — up to a maximum of 10,000 fans

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Most Read