Winter Haven Salvation Army Thrift Store Re-Opens
by James Coulter
COVID-19 has hit many people hard. Some people have exhausted their savings. Others have lost their jobs or even their homes. In these uncertain times, the least among us deserve a helping hand. Thankfully, there are places like the Salvation Army to lend a hand.
After several months of remaining closed due to the lockdown and the COVID-19 crisis, the Winter Haven Salvation Army Thrift Store celebrated its grand re-opening several weeks ago.
The store has been closed since March due to COVID-19. Commanding officer Lt. Dominic Blanford and his wife moved to Winter Haven as the new leaders of the Winter Haven branch. Their decision to re-open the store was made to help those who have been affected by the pandemic and the economic fallout caused by it.
“We actually [have] seen more and more clients since the coronavirus pandemic,” Lt. Blanford said. “They either lost their jobs or they need help with rental and facilities assistance. We need them to provide these needs.”
The thrift store sells gently used donated items ranging from clothing to furniture and electronics. Before reopening, the store’s interior received some minor renovations.
The store offers a free pickup service for those wishing to donate home-based items like furniture or electronics. The pickup service is offered on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
The Salvation Army also operates a women’s and children’s shelter, as well as a food pantry. Both services have experienced an influx of clients since the start of the pandemic. The food pantry especially has been running low on supplies due to the present increased demand.
“We are asking the community for help for filling up our food pantry, which is low, to provide the needs of those in the East Polk County community,” Lt. Blanford said. “As COVID has impacted everything, we want to let the community know that we are still here and still here to serve and to continue meeting human needs.”
While Christmas is around the corner, and the army usually deploys its army of bell ringers to collect monetary donations through their signature Red Kettles, the ongoing pandemic may affect their availability this year.
Instead, the Salvation Army is requesting members of the community to contribute to their Rescue for Christmas campaign. Overall, they ask that people help support their services by shopping at their store.
“What people don’t realize is that people come in a shop, they are not just shopping at the store, the money we raise in the store help us in our community such as our shelter,” Lt. Blanchard said.
“That was the main reason for the re-opening of the store,” he continued. “We want to ensure that and continue to provide the necessary help in the community so we ended up re-opening the store, to ensure we continue to meet the most good.”
The Winter Haven Salvation Thrift Store is located at 927 6th Street NW, Winter Haven, FL 33881. For more information, visit their website at: https://salvationarmyflorida.org/winterhaven/