The presents have now been opened and the new has replaced the old.
But what to do with the old?
There are a number of organizations around the district in need of donations to redistribute to people in need, but a problem all of them seem to face is storage.
“What we are in need of most is women’s jackets and ski pants; we don’t have a lot of warmer winter outerwear,” noted Donna Kroocmo, executive director of the Rainy River District Women’s Shelter of Hope.
“We had a couple of women in early this winter and we had nothing in our donations in terms of winter clothes for them.
“We also don’t get a lot of cash donations, which we use for transportation,” Kroocmo added.
“We can bring women into the shelter, that is covered,” she explained. “But once a women is in second stage and wants to move, there are no funds for that.”
On a very positive note, Kroocmo said the shelter actually is seeing the most bountiful year ever in terms of donations.
She credited the local teachers’ associations, churches, and the local Beta Sigma Phi sorority with making significant contributions.
“This is probably the most donations we’ve ever seen—people are being really generous and it’s very appreciated,” Kroocmo enthused.
She noted anyone with items to donate can call 1-800-465-3348. The shelter then will arrange to have an employee collect them during their weekly visit to Fort Frances.
The shelter is considering opening a second-hand store, so that they can bring in cash and have a place to store more.
Kroocmo also said they always are in need of appliances. And though they always can make room, space is limited.
“The community no longer has the community start-up allowance through Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board, so when women are moving out on their own, there isn’t that money to access to buy things like appliances,” she noted.
At the Rainy River District Victim Services Program, manager Peggy Loyie said while they often get calls from people with things to donate, they have no storage space.
“We help people set up or get started again, whether it’s a fire or a breakdown of a relationship where one person’s going one way and leaving all of their things behind,” she explained.
“Our problem always is storage.”
If they get calls from the public with things to donate, the RRDVSP often has clients in mind that may be in need.
Acting as a middleman, the program can match donations with people—but they don’t have the space to store them.
“We’ve referred people to the online Facebook site ‘Pay it Forward-Fort Frances and Area,’ where people are giving things away,” Loyie noted.
The site allows users to post things they are giving away, then other people can comment and say they will pick them up.
“We do what we can to help people,” Loyie said.
“As of right now, we don’t have any storage for people to bring stuff here,” echoed Danielle Spuzak, a homelessness outreach worker with the United Native Friendship Centre here.
“We always have people that are looking for furniture and those sorts of things,” she noted.
Spuzak said people can call the UNFC and they also can help find new homes for used items.
She added the UNFC also runs clothing drives in the spring and fall.
Over at the local Salvation Army, Lt. Dennis Maybury said while they are not accepting any donations right now, they will be taking in small items again starting Jan. 10.
“From Christmas Eve until New Year’s Day, we’re going to be closed so there will be no one here to collect anything,” Lt. Maybury noted.
“It also gives us a chance to in the New Year, when the store opens back up, time to do a clean-up and prepare for the new year.
“We certainly appreciate all the donations that people bring us,” Lt. Maybury stressed. “But all we ask is that people just store the donations in their basements or garages for a couple of weeks.
“[Then on Jan. 10], whatever people want to bring us, small items in good condition that they would buy themselves, then those things we take.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have any space for any furniture, so we would appreciate it if people don’t drop it off here,” he remarked.
When this happens, the Salvation Army must have it taken away at their expense.
“It is difficult to find space, and I wish we had the space because there are certainly a lot of people in need of furniture—and there are a lot of generous people in the community that would like to give away furniture,” Lt. Maybury noted.
“We get at least one or two calls every month from families of people who have either passed away, are going into Rainycrest, or moving that want to leave furniture with us,” he added.
“It’s good furniture but we have no place for it.
“It’s a huge logistical problem because we would have to rent a place and then hire more staff,” Lt. Maybury said. “It’s a big problem.
“We were working with a business owner in town to find a suitable place for people to drop off furniture, but that’s still in the works.”
Those calling the Salvation Army looking to give away furniture and other large appliances instead should try the Shelter of Hope, UNFC, or Victim Services as they are better equipped to help these items find new homes with people in need.