BY D’ARCY EGAN
The Portage Resale Center in Port Clinton was back in business this week, and Manager Mary Maine and her crew of volunteers were hopping. Closed by the COVID-19 pandemic, its re-opening last Friday brought out a slew of old friends and, as usual, a gang of bargain hunters.
“And I can tell you, we all missed one another,” said Maine, aided by Assistant Manger Cheryl Ross and almost two dozen volunteers. “We don’t have customers. We have friends stopping by to visit and browse. They’re like family, and we were all so happy to be back together.”
Many of the people who donate items, or look to buy something from the quality items on shelves and hangars, become true volunteers. They don’t get paid, but one admitted that putting in a few hours behind the counter can put a song in your heart.
Anyone walking through the door on Friday was required to wear a mask, and maintain 6 feet of social distancing. No one had to be reminded.
Portage Resale Center will be open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. for a while, with Saturdays to be added soon.
The St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry in the west end of the building at the intersection of West Second and Jackson streets, will also return soon to its schedule of being open two days each month.
In its ninth year, the Portage Resale Center created by Bob and Linda Snyder has been a savior for non-profit groups all around the area. They all look forward to the center’s Giving Tuesday, held the week after Thanksgiving, when all of its profits flow back to the community.
In 2019, 45 non-profit agencies shared $175,000. Since 2011, Portage Resale Center has given away $820,000.
This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, an exception will be made. With all of the non-profit agencies struggling in the face of rampant unemployment, United Way has been hit especially hard. The agency regularly gets a slice of the Portage Resale Agency pie, and Director Alison Lanza Falls needed it early.
“The nine-member board of directors on Portage Resale Center met at their quarterly meeting, and released an early grant of $10,000,” said Falls. “It will make such a difference, and help to keep so many families afloat.”
Portage Resale Center also provides hands-on help to many in the community.
“One of our most important duties is to help those in real need get the clothes, household goods or furniture that will make a real difference in their lives,” said Maine. “We give United Way and other agencies vouchers to use at Portage Resale Center. The free goods go to grandparents who suddenly have to care for grandchildren, who arrived with little more than the clothes on their back.
“Or a woman at Lighthouse Sober Living who is graduating soon, and needs dishes, pots and pans for an apartment, but doesn’t have a job yet. It might be an abused mother with kids who had to leave everything behind to make an escape.”
A friend in need is a real friend, indeed.