A local non-profit group which hands out clothing, food and household items at no charge to families in need is looking for a new home.
“Without a new location we will have to close at the end of the year,” says Doreen Jones, co-founder of Chilliwack Community Cupboard.
On a weekly basis, the organization helps about 120 children and gives out 500 articles of clothing — all during the small two-hour window they’re open every Thursday.
“Our goal is to help the kids and therefore help the whole family. Ultimately they will learn better in school and be more successful in their future,” she says, adding that they help about 40 families every week.
But come Dec. 31, they won’t be able to help those families if Community Cupboard has no place to go. They’re currently looking for a space on the north side of the highway, preferably in the downtown area.
“Ideally we would like 1,500 square feet, 1,200 would be OK, 1,000 square feet we could manage with,” says Jones. “We’re getting kind of desperate.”
Community Cupboard is completely volunteer-run and has been around for nearly six years.
They receive monetary donations from Chilliwack Elks, Chilliwack Firefighters Charitable Society, Atchelitz Women’s Institute, Vancity and Riverside Construction in Abbotsford. People have donated items like non-perishable food, clothing (baby to adult), shoes, books, and kitchen supplies. Sardis Bakery gives them bread every week and the Salvation Army donates fresh produce to them on Tuesdays.
Community Cupboard then doles everything out to families with children who need it most.
“It’s like a thrift store for free,” says volunteer Joyce Douglas.
“We try to make this as non-judgmental as possible so that they feel comfortable coming in. It’s a social environment, it’s a safe place,” says Jones. “We don’t ask them a bunch of questions. If they feel they have a need, then they have a need as far as we’re concerned.”
Community Cupboard first started out in a portable at Chilliwack middle school in December 2013. In the summer of 2017, they had to leave due to an increase in class size at the school, so they moved into what was then the former University of the Fraser Valley campus on Yale Road, which is where they are currently located.
The campus was purchased by the school district in December of last year with plans to transform it into an integrated arts school, and so Community Cupboard will have to pack up and move again.
Jones and the other volunteers figure wherever they move to, they’re looking at a minimum of $2,000 a month for rent, but they’re hoping someone has a space for them at a discounted rate, or better yet, free.
“We really believe we have to have a year’s worth of rent in the bank because we don’t have any source of income,” says Jones. “We’ve never had to pay rent up until now — we expect we will have to, that’s why we’re having a big fundraiser.”
On Saturday, Sept. 28 Chilliwack Community Cupboard is having a fundraising dinner at the Chilliwack Curling Club.
It’ll be a roast beef and salmon dinner with a live DJ from Mint Entertainment. There will also be a silent auction and a 50/50 draw.
They had a similar fundraiser in April which brought in $4,000.
Jones says Community Cupboard would not be able to operate if it weren’t for the generosity of the community.
And they know their hard work in helping the community every week is worth it. Not only do they get appreciation from their clients, but they’ve recently been nominated for a Chilliwack Business Excellence Award for non-profit.
“Somebody has recognized that what we’re doing is worthwhile. That makes us feel good,” says Jones.
The Chilliwack Community Cupboard fundraising dinner is at 6 p.m. (dinner at 7 p.m.) on Saturday, Sept. 28 at the Chilliwack Curling Club (45550 Spadina Ave.). Tickets are $50 or a table of eight for $360. For tickets, call 604-845-3367 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
They are open to the public Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Chilliwack Community Cupboard is located at 45635 Yale Rd. (former UFV site). Enter around the back of the campus off Meadowbrook Drive and look for the “Midtown Church office” sign. Donations can be dropped off on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., or at Michael’s on Main and Soul2sole Esthetics.