“We’re doing this first one on a trial basis, kind of to see what the response from the community is,” said Lt. Michelle Wilson with the local The Salvation Army. “We’ve received numerous phone calls every day here at our office and people even just stopping by wanting to continue to support The Salvation Army in some way. Because of space, we’re only able to accept donations for a one-week time period and that will kind of give us a feel of how many donations to expect because we are running without our full thrift store staff.
“We’re running on limited staffing here at our Felton Place location. ... Our hope is to be able to have a sale once a month, but again, we’re going to look at all of that based on how much we’ll be able to receive in and process through in donations and then what the turnout is of the sale [and] if it seems like something that the community is really interested in.”
Due to the sluggish economy, The Salvation Army recently vacated its second location on Apex Drive in Cartersville. While this forced the nonprofit to temporarily close its thrift store Jan. 31, its social services operations returned to The Salvation Army’s site at 16 Felton Place.
“Before we closed our doors at the thrift store, we heard from so many of the folks, [from] our regular customers, who came into our thrift store, through the doors, as a way to continue to be able to provide for their families despite the economy,” Wilson said. “They were able to come in and get good, quality items that were given by the generosity of other folks in the community to The Salvation Army at affordable prices so that they could continue to provide for their families within the means of their budget each month.
“We have established an exploratory committee of our advisory board. We are looking at all of those options of reopening the thrift store here in Cartersville, but obviously we’ve got to search out and find the right location for the right price with the right overhead. All those details need to come together for us to reopen but we are hopeful that will be something that happens again in the future.”
Proceeds from the March sale will assist the nonprofit’s character building programs, disaster relief efforts and social services offering. In 2011, the Cartersville office provided social services — food and financial assistance with utility bills, medications and rent — to 3,055 individuals.
Many of the residents seeking assistance have been impacted by the downturn in the economy, either by losing their jobs or having their hours of employment reduced.
“Every day I get numerous calls, probably 40 calls a day from people just asking when we’re going to be doing utility assistance again,” said Shannon Collins, administrative assistant for Cartersville’s Salvation Army. “They’re trying to make that dollar stretch and see if they can get utility assistance or food assistance, medical assistance — any type of assistance that we do. [Some of these] people [are] calling and saying that they’ve been unemployed since 2008 [or] 2009 and that they’ve spent all their savings just due to the economy.”
For more information about The Salvation Army’s services or the March sale, call 770-387-9955.