A Wetaskiwin thrift store also offers a plethora of social support services that have helped hundreds of people since opening day.
Agape Thrift Store and Community Outreach, “Where Everyone is Family,” just celebrated their third anniversary Dec. 1, and owner/operator Kate Halas said a very rewarding part of the operation has been community outreach.
Halas said when Agape was started, she saw the need for more support services in the community, and it seemed that no matter what existed in the community, there were always gaps. She said Agape tries to fill those gaps.
Halas said one of the most important outreach programs Agape offers is “emergency support.” She said less fortunate members of the community can come in and get an article of clothing they need, like a winter hat or coat. She said Agape doesn’t ask for a T-4 or anything like that. “When you say you have a need, I believe you,” said Halas at the store Dec. 12.
Their Christmas hamper program also offers one full turkey meal for community members in need, plus one gift for everyone in the family, including mom and dad.
Other popular outreach programs at Agape include Teagan’s Toy Chest, which offers new or excellent condition donated toys (referral and some documentation needed), the Senior Companion Project which pairs up local seniors with volunteers for social time or other activities two to four hours a week and H.O.P.E. (Healing, Opportunity, Purpose, Empowerment), which addresses domestic violence and offers non-judgmental ears for anyone who is or has experienced domestic violence.
Halas noted nobody at the not for profit organization takes a wage and Agape also takes referrals form other service providers in the community. She said it’s nice to have a support network. “We’ll always be better working together,” said Halas.
It looks like word has gotten out about Agape: in three years they’ve helped 658 people and families, which is about five per cent of the population of Wetaskiwin, and had only one grant in that time. Halas said she’s averaged that number out over business days and means Agape is helping a person a day.
She said that number tells her something about Agape and its outreach programs. “That it is absolutely needed in this community,” added Halas.