St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, located at 30 Mill Street in Chesterville, hopes to have its fundraisers back in play sooner than later, including the church’s thrift store, Ye Olde Bargain Shoppe. Courtesy Photo

Ye Olde Bargain Shoppe

CHESTERVILLE – Although heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Chesterville remains focused on serving the community.

“On an average year, pre-COVID, we manage to give to anyone who needs it, like the fire department, local schools, Naomi’s Family Resource Centre, the Dundas Food Bank, Dundas County Hospice, and to people in the community who find themselves in a sudden bind. If someone suffers a catastrophe like a fire, they can also come in and get clothes, bedding, housewares, etc., for free,” congregant Gaenor Howe said.

In addition to regular church services, in pre-pandemic times, the local church raised funds through the operation of a thrift store called Ye Olde Bargain Shoppe. Congregants also baked and sold homemade pies, and they provided a weekly community luncheon. Unfortunately, the latter two have all but ceased since the pandemic began and Ye Olde Bargain Shoppe, due to current provincial regulations and illness, is closed until further notice.

“Due to the renewed COVID restrictions, it would be too difficult to have the shop open,” Howe said. “We would need extra volunteers to control the number of people entering the store at one time. As well, some of our volunteers have come down with COVID recently, and some have health vulnerabilities that make them unable to volunteer right now.”

Ye Olde Bargain Shoppe, which is in the church basement, is completely run by volunteers from the congregation or the community. Items sold in the store are donations contributed by community members. The volunteers who do the sorting said they’re thankful to all those who donate such beautiful things for the store’s inventory.

The Chesterville thrift shop carries shoes and boots, clothing for all ages from coats to pyjamas, small appliances (hand mixers, electric kettles, and the like), toys, bedding, knickknacks, art, CDs, records, DVDs, craft supplies, purses and luggage, baskets, puzzles, picture frames, dishes, pots and pans, skates, and more. All proceeds beyond infrastructure costs go to various charities, local groups, or people struggling in the community.

While Ye Olde Bargain Shoppe is currently closed, the group is considering extending its current hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays to include at least one Saturday per month. This will ensure that those who are unable to attend during the week still can shop at the thrift store as well. The store is expected to re-open when the province’s safety mandates allow and when staff can safely return.

While the store itself doesn’t have a website or Facebook page, the church advertises in local newspapers when possible. Otherwise, the store’s status is posted on the door and, when possible, poster notices are posted around town. In addition to the thrift store, St. Andrew’s has raised funds through pie making and weekly community luncheons, both of which have been put on hold due to the pandemic.

“Our pies are local favourites. We make them by hand from our own recipes and sell them frozen, so you can just pop them into the oven frozen,” Howe said. “It’s been very difficult not making the pies because it’s our major fundraiser, but the rules about spacing, additional food safety protocols, and the number of people who can gather in one place have made it impossible.”

The luncheons, which are an outreach initiative, have been missed. The St. Andrew’s Ladies, congregants who cook and serve the meals, have heard from regular attendees who formerly enjoyed the delicious meal and socializing opportunity provided on the last Wednesday of every month from January to June and September to November.

St. Andrew’s is located at 30 Mill Street in Chesterville. The fully accessible facility, originally built in 1898, continues to provide Sunday services beginning at 9 a.m. while also following provincial pandemic protocols. To find out what items are accepted for donation, visit Ye Olde Bargain Shoppe when the store re-opens, which, if all goes well, will hopefully be early in February.

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