Best service it can offer: St. Vincent de Paul Store operates year-round
HANCOCK — During Thanksgiving and Christmas, people tend to think about donation drives, such as for food pantries and toys, but the staff at St. Vincent De Paul in Hancock know from experience that those needs occur year-round. In the attempt to meet those needs, the organization has several ways of accomplishing their goals, but Carla Johnson, Hancock’s store manager, said it is important for people to understand how it all works.
In short, the store accepts donations of gently used items, cleans and launders them, then offers them for resale at exceptionally low prices. The procedes then are given to the food pantry next door.
Donations from the general public provide access to exceptionally priced, gently used items ranging from household goods to furniture, from tee-shirts and jeans to dresses and suits. Even 25 cent light bulbs are available. While prices are very reasonable at St. Vincent de Paul, store manager Carla Johnson said the store has the same expenses as any other business on main street.
“Just like any other business,” Johnson said, “you have electric bills, and heat bills, payroll, insurance costs.”
Those expenses, the cost of doing business, are part of St. Vincent de Paul’s “overhead.” Additionally, in the winter months, the rear parking lot must be plowed after every snow event, the roof needs to be cleared, and other maintenance costs arise.
“After those expenses are met, the money goes next-door,” said Johnson. “It helps with the food pantry, and it helps with shut-offs. We help with clothing vouchers, household vouchers, furniture vouchers, we have the loan closet.”
The loan closet is extremely important to many patrons, she said, because it has walkers, crutches, commodes, risers, “any of that kind of stuff,” said Johnson, and those items are free of charge to borrow for as long as they are needed.
In addition to receiving donations each week between Wednesday and Saturdays during business hours. the store also owns a truck for which they conduct pick-ups for large items such as furniture and kitchen appliances, provided the management has enough an advance notice to be able to schedule the pickup with staff.
“I want to thank the donors and the shoppers,” Johnson said. “Without them, none of this could get done.”