YGK Thrift volunteers complete annual donation drive for Almost Home

Liz Suurd (centre), YGK Thrift store manager, with team members Johnny Yap (left) and Caleena Durocher (right), holding donated clothing, outerwear and accessories, which will be available for sale at YGK Thrift in downtown Kingston. Photo by Zoha Khalid.

Almost Home and YGK Thrift completed their annual clothing donation drive on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. The donations included items like clothing (adult, children, maternity) and accessories, including hats, boots, robes, shoes, coats, bags, suitcases, sunglasses, costume jewelry, gloves, etc. 

Almost Home is a local charitable organization which provides temporary accommodation to families whose children are receiving medical treatment in Kingston area hospitals. YGK Thrift is a retail outlet branch of Almost Home, which raises funds for Almost Home’s operations through the sale of used clothing. 

Since its launch in June of 2021, the YGK Thrift store has made a lot of financial progress while building and maintaining community relations, according to those with the organization. Almost Home has engaged with service providers, including Community Living Kingston and District, KEYS, and ReStart, to bring people with disabilities into their store and create accessible participation opportunities on various levels of the operation, including the hiring processes of the team. For these efforts, In 2021, YGK Thrift Store received a Celebrating Accessibility Award in the ‘Business’ category through the City of Kingston. 

“We intend to continue our work towards making our environment and practices friendly and accessible,” said Sam MacLeod, Fund Development Manager at Almost Home. 

YGK Thrift Store is unique because it provides its customers with a comprehensive shopping experience. They have worked to teach and share stories of fashion and its history to foster an ethos of learning and a passion for clothing. They have also offered no-cost classes on fabric and style to ensure the donations they receive are understood and cared for. 

“It is important for us to understand that many of the items we receive were loved and that we need to appreciate and act as stewards for these pieces; through this understanding, we grow more knowledgeable and engaged, and so offer a better experience to our shoppers,” said MacLeod.   

Over 305 people registered in the donation drive, and the Almost Home team collected the donations from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. Donations were bagged or boxed and put in a visible location for pick-up teams, and a total of over 1,300 bags and boxes were collected by volunteers from the organizations. Items collected will be sold at YGK Thrift, with all proceeds going to support families living at Almost Home.

The collection time for the clothing drive has now closed, but in February, Almost Home will be launching a permanent pick-up program for donations. People can register for this program at www.almosthome.on.ca.

“We have been fortunate for a lot of support from our university community. We have hosted different student groups for school projects and student club initiatives, including a virtual fashion show for Project Red. Every day, we have student volunteers from ASUS’s Kids for Kids, Vogue Charity Fashion Show, and other campus clubs. We hope to build on this relationship by continuing to offer our space and clothing to groups that can benefit from it, and by being a positive space in our downtown,” shared MacLeod.

And their successful efforts thus far have resulted in an enthusiastic following for YGK Thrift here in Kingston, evident in the results of the recent donation drive.

“The drive was a great success. We hit over 300 homes and collected somewhere around 1,300 bags and boxes of clothing. That clothing is being sorted as we speak and has already begun hitting our store’s floor. It has been amazing for all of us to see the great support and turnout for our drive,” MacLeod expressed.

“The items we are pulling out of the donations are incredible and include a lot of high end and designer wear, and interesting vintage pieces. We look forward to presenting them to our shoppers and invite everyone to come check out our store and our sales at YGK Thrift.”

Almost Home has remained open throughout the pandemic with practices and protocols in place for the health and safety of the families who stay there during already heightened times of stress. 

“Our services are always in need, hospitalized kids still need their families, and as long as that is the case, our home will remain open,” added MacLeod

People can also donate in person on regular days at YGK Thrift, located at 165 Princess Street in downtown Kingston.

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