Community Clothing Assistance in Thunder Bay 'thrilled' anonymous donor is offering $25K for roof repair
Charity group needs $150K roof repair to protect inventory and staff; distributes 6,000 clothing items monthly
The Community Clothing Assistance in Thunder Bay hopes people in the northwestern Ontario city will act quickly after an anonymous donor came forward with an offer to match up to $25,000 in donations for urgent roof repairs, but the money must be collected by the end of October.
The not-for-profit group hands out 6,000 free, gently-used clothing items to people in need each month. But the roof of the charity's 10,000 square-foot building has developed a serious leak which is jeopardizing their operation, said David Andrews, the chair of the CCA board.
"The fundamental needs of people are basically shelter, food and clothing. And we've got the Shelter House, and we've got the food bank and we set out to try to be the people who provide the clothing element of those three basic needs and we want to be able to keep doing it," he said.
'You feel helpless when you're a charity' facing big problem
"We noticed a little leakage in the ceiling tiles," which lead to a broader search and the discovery of several weak points, said Andrews. "We obviously have a concern about the snow load coming if we've got issues with the roof, because we need to have a secure, closed-in roof."
About 15,000 pieces of clothing are donated to the assistance each month. Those items are stored in the large warehouse area, but the leaky roof means every time it rains that inventory is at risk of being ruined, Andrews said. As well, there are growing concerns about ongoing damage to the internal electrical installations, drywall, and ceiling.
The cost of the repair has been estimated at $150,000 plus HST. The CCA has already secured $25,000 from the Fort William Rotary Club, and the organization has also applied to the City of Thunder Bay for partial funding.
Andrews said learning that an anonymous donor had come forward with the potential to contribute another $50,000 has given him hope the CCA can cover the cost of repairs.
"I was thrilled. I had been worrying about this for some time, to tell you the truth. You feel a little bit helpless when you're a charity and you've got a problem like this," he said.
'Optimistic' people will donate by Oct. 31 deadline
"The people in Thunder Bay are actually very generous, when push comes to shove and I'm actually pretty optimistic that they'll be able to open up their wallets and help us out."
Andrews said the CCA operates as a storefront, with people identified through social services receiving 30 pieces of free clothing every four months.
They can go into the storefront and pick out all the items they want. "If the items aren't available, for instance sizes, then that's recorded and they're able to come back during that period and pick up the proper sizes."
Each year, the CCA gets more referrals and requests for help, said Andrews, noting the assistance distributes only secondhand clothing donated by people in Thunder Bay, with the exception of the holiday "undercover project" which provides children with new socks and underwear.
Clothing donations or cash donations for roof repairs can be made at the clothing assistance building on May Street, or online at Canada Helps. Donations matched to the anonymous benefactor must be received by October 31, 2019.
- A previous version of this story mis-identified the Rotary Club that donated $25,000 to Community Clothing Assistance.Oct 11, 2019 10:24 AM ET