The staff at Qualitown Thrift Store in Campbell River pose for a photograph. Every second and fourth monday of the month, they will be welcoming homeless people to come and take things that they need from the store. Binny Paul photo

The staff at Qualitown Thrift Store in Campbell River pose for a photograph. Every second and fourth monday of the month, they will be welcoming homeless people to come and take things that they need from the store. Binny Paul photo

’Ask and you shall receive,’ store says to homeless Vancouver Islanders

Campbell River thrift store offers free shopping for the homeless to deter theft

Tired of break-ins, a Campbell River thrift store is opening its door to homeless people to shop for free two days a month.

On Dec. 14, Caroline Bleaney the store manager of Qualitown Thrift Store on Shoppers Row, had warm food that she had prepared waiting for the homeless people who would walk in to the store.

By mid-morning a few of them came by, took what they needed and got a home cooked meal that Bleaney had made for them.

“They picked up socks, jackets, blankets – warm clothes mostly,” said one of the Qualitown staff.

Every second and fourth Monday of the month, the store plans to continue with this program. The idea was Bleaney’s solution to solve the “constant theft issues” at the store.

“We kept having break-ins and we saw people taking away things through the CCTV recordings,” Bleaney said.

So she decided to address the “root” of this issue with a Christian principle: “Ask and it shall be given unto you, seek and you shall find it, knock and the doors shall be opened,” Bleaney quoted scripture, explaining the concept of ‘homeless Mondays’ at Qualitown.

The staff at the store also see the program as a way to get together with the homeless people, hear them and understand their problems.

“We want to create an avenue for them to ask for what they need,” she said.

After the COVID-19 pandemic began, even social workers faced a dilemma when it came to handing out clothes to homeless people because of safety protocols aimed to curb the spread of the virus. When the thrift store reopened after the first wave lock down, Bleaney realized that they could give out the donated products at the store that were already sanitized.

The store management and the community of Campbell River has been supportive of Bleaney’s initiative, she said.

The bigger picture is to help get people out of the streets, “one person at a time.”

So even if five people can be helped through what we’re doing it can create a ripple effect of change in the future,” she said.

The menu for the next open house – to be held on Dec.28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m – is already planned.

“It’s going to be spaghetti and meatballs,” Bleaney said excitedly.

Campbell RiverHomeless

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Nexii roof panel is lifted during construction of a Starbucks in Abbotsford. Alexzi Building Solutions will be building a manufacturing plant in Langford or North Cowichan to produce the sustainable construction panels. (Photo courtesy of Alexzi Building Solutions)
Langford eyed for facility to make green building alternative to concrete

Langford, North Cowichan possible sites for plant to create sustainable construction panels

Local MP Elizabeth May says the public has a right to know the identity of the company that plans to operate the massive warehouse proposed for Sidney on airport lands but residents who want to stop the project would probably have to go through the courts. (Black Press Media File)
MP Elizabeth May says public has right to know identity of Sidney warehouse operator

Residents wanting to stop the project would probably have to go through the courts, said May

Bukwila by Art Thompson, set at the steps of Lansdowne campus’ Wilna Thomas Cultural Centre, has been welcoming students to campus since 1997. (Photo courtesy of Camosun College)
World-renowned artist’s legacy lives on at Camosun College

Art Thompson made untold contributions toward Indigenous education, art and advocacy

Did you know, according to the CRD, every person produces an average of 185–200 litres of wastewater per day? Here’s where most of it gets treated, at the new wastewater treatment facility at McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt. (CRD image)
View Royal signs on to wastewater funding plan

Capital Regional District requesting to borrow up to $34.3 million to upgrade infrastructure

Susan Lundy is an award-winning writer – including a two-time recipient of the prestigious Jack Webster Award of Distinction – with a 35-year career in print journalism. She is well known throughout B.C. as the managing editor of Black Press Media’s Boulevard Magazine and is also the author of the book Heritage Apples. (Lia Crowe photo)
Award-winning journalist and humour columnist pens ode to motherhood and family

Susan Lundy is the managing editor of Black Press Media’s Boulevard Magazine

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

VIDEO: Dashcam captures dramatic rollover crash at Massey Tunnel

Only one person sustained injuries from the collision, says B.C. Ambulance Services

Police were on the scene of a fatal shooting in Abbotsford. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. government to give more than $8 million for programs to curb gang violence

221 not-for-profit projects led by local governments and school districts among others will receive a one-time grant

Gord Judson steers his log truck down a forest service road, using two-way radio and call signals to mark his position for oncoming traffic. (B.C. Forest Safety Council)
Planning some B.C. wilderness fishing? Don’t catch a log truck

Remote recreation areas bracing for heavy pandemic pressure

Former University of British Columbia student Stephanie Hale, 22. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff Bassett
Human Rights Tribunal to hear complaint against UBC Okanagan for ‘mishandling’ sexual assault report

Stephanie Hale did not return to campus after the student she alleges attacked her was cleared of wrongdoing

Jennifer Coffman, owner of Truffle Pigs in Field, B.C., poses beside her business sign on Thursday, May 6, 2021, in this handout photo. Her restaurant and lodge have been hit hard by a closure of a section of the Trans-Canada Highway and by the British Columbia government discouraging Alberta residents from visiting during the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Jennifer Coffman, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘Why we survive’: B.C. boundary towns struggle without Albertans during pandemic

Jennifer Coffman’s restaurant is located in the tiny community of Field, which relies on tourism

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Black bear tranquillized, relocated after wandering around residential Ladysmith

A juvenile black bear was spotted near 2nd Avenue earlier Friday morning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Most Read