Thrift Store puts $500,000 back into community

Recipients of funds from the Morden Community Thrift Store. Front row: Linda Marek (Pembina Valley Pregnancy Care Centre), Shannon Samatte-Folkett (Boundary Trails Health Centre Foundation), Pat Gibson (Volunteer Community Boundary Trails Health Centre Committee), Lana Pederson (Healthy Minds Breakfast), Elaine Trefiak (Rock Lake United Church Camp), John Rempel (Youth for Christ), Ian Affleck, Myrna Mayor, Bitz Loewen (Agassiz Medical Centre). Middle row: Brian Nedohin, Evelyn Currie, Kim Loewen (Morden Handivan Services), Allen Schellenberg (Morden Christian Programs), Mark Sawatzky, Bernie Thiessen, Paul Penner (Pembina Counselling Centre). Back row: Dennis Macklem, Andy Thiessen (Morden Fire Department), Grant Therrien (STARS Air Ambulance), Cal Funk (Darlingford Fire Department) and Chris Harms (Pembina Valley Bible Camp). (LAUREN MACGILL, Morden Times)

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Half a million dollars is back in the community thanks to donors, volunteers and shoppers at Morden Community Thrift Store.

The store held their biannual grant disbursements on July 8, giving out $500,000 to 17 organizations in the area.

Morden Community Thrift Store Executive Secretary Norah Wiebe said getting to hand out that much money to organizations that need it feels like Christmas. “We’re just delighted to be able to do it,” she said. “We’re absolutely delighted. It’s what we come here for every day.”

“It’s a community thrift shop, so what we take in goes out,” she added.

Wiebe said the days they get to hand out money to local organizations are very exciting.

“This is a day we look forward to twice a year,” Wiebe said. “We definitely look forward to it. On days when you’re feeling a little down or overwhelmed by the work, you just realize where it’s going and what’s going to happen and it’s okay.”

The 17 organizations receiving money represent a wide variety of services, which is exactly what Wiebe said they look for. “We try to reach as much of the community as possible,” she said.

$250,000 went to Boundary Trails Health Centre’s Building for the Future fund, money put aside for the hospital’s eventual expansion.

Volunteer Community Boundary Trails Health Centre Expansion Committee member Pat Gibson said the importance of the donation is indescribable. “We know that we are going to have to raise multi-million dollars for phase one,” she said. “The Boundary Trails [Health Centre] Foundation has taken ownership of completely building phase one with the government looking after the retrofit. This goes a long way to start our building fund.”

To date, the Thrift Store has contributed $750,000 to the building fund. “We don’t really have words for that, it’s incredible,” BTHC Foundation Executive Director Shannon Samatte-Folkett said. “It’s so generous. They see the importance.”

The fund has over $1.5 million in it so far, and the Foundation said the expansion will probably cost upwards of $10 million.

“Everybody believes in it,” Samatte-Folkett said. “Everybody knows, they understand that this is needed.”

Another $40,000 went to BTHC’s rehab for therapy equipment. The hospital’s flower fund received $500.

Pembina Counselling Centre and STARS Air Ambulance each received $25,000 and $22,000 went to Darlingford Fire Department for hydraulic lift jacks that will be shared between Darlingford, Manitou, La Riviere and Morden.

Morden Fire Department received $20,000. Morden Fire Chief Andy Thiessen said the support the department has received from the Thrift Store has been unimaginable.

“It’s amazing how the community supports the Thrift Store and the Thrift Store turns around and supports the community back,” he said. “When you’re in this circle, it’s kind of mind blowing.”

The money will be going toward burn containers for the fire department’s training site. Fire fighters will practice on live fires, and the money will be used for safety features to prevent injuries during drills.

“It’s a spot where we can keep up our skills, we can learn new skills so that we can send our volunteers home safely,” he said. “That’s the main thing.”

Thiessen said the training site is also set up for neighbouring communities like Darlingford, Miami and Manitou.

Over the years of support, Morden Community Thrift Store has helped purchase almost $400,000 of equipment for the fire department.

“If you come down to the Fire Hall and we show you around, the rescue equipment that we have in the fire department has all come out of this place,” Thiessen said. “Every year there’s something that pops up that we need.”

Next year the 9-1-1 system will be changing, and Thiessen said the fire department will be needing new radios. Each radio costs around $8,000 and the department will need multiple units to stay up to date.

Youth for Christ received $20,000 to help renovations on Samson’s Gym and $12,000 for counselling services. Morden Handivan Services got $20,000.

$15,000 each went to Pembina Valley Bible Camp and Rock Lake United Church Camp for their camper funds and support.

Pembina Valley Pregnancy Care Centre received $10,000 and Agassiz Medical Centre received $8,500 for a handheld ultrasound scanner.

The Healthy Minds Breakfast Program received $5,000 to help keep school children fed. $6,000 each went into Morden Christian Programs and bursaries for Morden Collegiate.

A team of dedicated volunteers keeps the Thrift Store running day after day, and Wiebe said they would love to have some new help on board.

“We’re a senior group of volunteers and we’re getting older,” she said. “Holidays come up and illness come up… we never have enough volunteers.”

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