Dozens of families in the Wetaskiwin area are celebrating the upcoming anniversary of a new clothing and thrift charity in the city.
Agape (pronounced Ah-gawp-ay) Community Outreach is a new non-profit resource for those families and individuals in the area who are having a tough time making ends meet said executive director Kate Halas.
“Agape is a Greek word, it means ‘perfect love,’” said Halas by phone Oct. 12. “We support low-income families and people who are struggling in the economic downturn.” Halas said they’ve also helped people fleeing from abusive relationships. “We help them to start over.”
Halas said since Agape is so new, with its one year anniversary coming up in December, the charity has survived with no government funding and no grants. She noted many sources of funding want to see records from a charity for 12 months of operations.
She said Agape is also waiting for its charitable number to be approved by the federal government, but it’s been taking a long time. Halas said she hopes to receive the number in November.
The primary source of funding for Agape Community Outreach has been their thrift store, located at 4910, 48th Street in Wetaskiwin, in the old “Curves” gym. The store itself is open to the public but all proceeds above operating costs go straight to the outreach program. Halas said the substantial downtown construction has led more traffic past the store, a silver lining for the program.
Halas said the community outreach program supports people from the surrounding area, including Maskwacis, Millet and the counties, but she will not turn away anyone in need. Halas said she also enjoys working directly with clients because she’s not a big fan of red tape and bureaucracy. “When you’re in genuine need, application after application, that’s not feeding your family,” said Halas.
She said everything for sale in the store comes from donors; donations come from both inside and outside the community. Recently, Agape received a huge donation of grad dresses, some brand new.
However, Agape has some limits. The store doesn’t accept large appliances, mattresses, box springs or toys. Anything else goes from there.
The other part of Agape is the community outreach, which Halas handles at the store. She said those in need can meet with her and discuss their needs. “There’s not a lot of hoops to go through,” she said. “We only ask you take what you need.” Outreach support is always free of charge.
Over the past year, Agape Community Outreach has helped 55 families. Halas said Agape Community Outreach has also reached out to local police and emergency services to offer help to people in crisis, such as those who’ve had a house fire.
The store’s hours are Monday to Friday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 11 to 5 and closed Sunday and stat holidays.
Halas said Agape was conceived in response to seeing people suffering in the community, losing homes, eating pet food because groceries were too expensive.
“At the end of the day, we just wanted to offer a hand,” added Halas.