Street Help brings on extra storage after experiencing overflow of donations, inventory

Street Help Windsor has been filled to the brim with community donations and daily inventory like cooking pots and disposable plates.

Two shipping containers will soon house essentials like pots, pans and disposable plates

Volunteers Jeffrey Burton Wiede and Anthony Nelson stand in front of Street Help Windsor's new shipping container with the shelter's administrator, Christine Wilson-Furlonger. (Darrin Di Carlo/CBC News Windsor)

It's a full house right now at Street Help — quite literally.

The inside of the drop-in centre for those experiencing homelessness is stacked almost to the ceiling with boxes full of canned food, pots, pans, clothes and many other donations.

"It's certainly a good problem to have, but we really need the space," said Christine Wilson-Furlonger, administrator at Street Help.

Because of the pandemic, staff members have also had to try and find space for disposable plates and cutlery. There are also many boxes of gloves, masks and cleaning supplies. All of it is taking up a lot of space.

Wilson-Furlonger said they've been forced to improvise.

The centre has rented out two 40-foot shipping containers that will be placed in Street Help's parking lot for a three-month trial period. Each container has a rental cost of $300 per month.

Wilson-Furlonger says the investment is worth it in the long run.

"Once I can have the storage containers in place, the food can be organized in the one room and sorted. So as it is sorted, the shelves will be filled and the food will just flow better."

'It's a good problem to have': shelves are stocked to the ceiling at Street Help

4 months ago
Duration 1:53
Street Help Windsor's administrator, Christine Wilson-Furlonger gives a short tour of the indoor storage spaces at the homeless shelter. Two large shipping containers are expected to help create more room in the building.

Jeffrey Burton Wiede,  a volunteer at the centre, is in charge of helping re-stock inventory. He said a large amount of items come in and out of storage on a regular basis.

"Just in one month, we go through 40 to 50 boxes of our disposable serving trays ... That's just one item. Never mind cutlery, coffee cups, salad bowls, garbage bags. It's a whole lot of stuff."

He said having shipping containers to store their large monthly inventory will help make things more efficient at Street Help.

"[Right now] this is kind of unorganized. Me, personally, I know where stuff is right now. But with the shipping containers, it will be an organizational success story."

The first shipping container arrived on Friday and the second one is expected to come in on Saturday.

Wilson-Furlonger said it is their alternative to renting or buying a warehouse, which can get pricey.

"There are other charities that have warehouses. But a warehouse wasn't a priority for us until now ... If I can just rent a storage container, that dissolves the need [for a warehouse]."

She said over the weekend, volunteers will be busy moving a number of items into the shipping containers — but there are some limitations.

Staff will continue to store fresh food, liquids and clothing items indoors to protect them from mould or bugs.


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