BY D’ARCY PATRICK EGAN
Portage Resale Center somehow stutter-stepped through its ninth year of providing the community with affordable clothing, furniture, household items and other gently used goods, despite being shuttered by Ohio COVID-19 restrictions for a couple of months.
A big disappointment this December was having to forego the annual Giving Tuesday, a morning celebration when the Board of Directors hand out much-needed donations to non-profits groups from all around Ottawa County. The Portage Resale Center isn’t a money maker, although it does plenty of that. It is a money-giver, using all of its profits to make sure dozens of agencies have enough funds to help the local communities.
In 2019, the center gave away a record $175,000 to 39 food pantries, children’s program, transitional housing, churches, schools, charities, and a lot more. The board knew that after being shut down for most of two months in 2020 by the pandemic, they couldn’t match that success.
But they came pretty darn close.
“We sent out $168,000 in checks to the recipients this year, and sorely missed bringing all of our volunteers, board members and youth council together for the ceremony,” said Linda Snyder, who created the Portage Resale Center nine years ago with her husband, Bob, in four crowded rooms of the old Portage Elementary School in Gypsum.
At first, there was never enough room for household goods and clothing, and too many people in need of an affordable jacket or pair of shoes. The Portage Resale Center turned that corner late in 2012, when the Heineman Family gifted their 3,000 square-foot building at 301 W. Second Street in Port Clinton to the Portage Resale Center.
The Board of Directors were charged with renovating the building now owned by the non-profit. When volunteers completed the job, it had the look and feel of an upscale department store, wrote John Schaffner, publisher of The Beacon.
“Transforming the building from a from warehouse to a department store was almost magical,” said Linda Snyder. “As always, it was because there are so many dedicated, talented volunteers doing the work out of the goodness of their hearts.”
Portage Resale Center has more than 30 volunteers at the moment, some who diligently work many days each week and others who put in an hour or two when they can.
On Monday, Delores Reardon of Fremont, who has been a volunteer at Portage Resale Center for almost two years, was busily hanging winter clothes on a rack.
“I really enjoy being a volunteer, and the people I work with,” said Reardon. “The best part of volunteering is that I’m not locked in to a schedule. I can work when I want, with the nicest people around. We’re a team.”
Mary Maine, the manager and only full-time employee, has been at the helm for seven years.
“It’s all about the volunteers, and the community spirit,” said Maine. “We make sure the quality of what we sell is good. The pandemic has made business difficult this year, both in having volunteers and just staying open because of the mandates from the Ohio Department of Health.”
Christmas items and winter clothing are very popular, and a steady stream of shoppers wandered the store on Monday. Many were return customers looking for a bargain.
Looking to the future, Board Member Heather Stouffer has created the Portage Retail Youth Council, a cadre of 10 students from Ottawa County’s five high schools. They meet regularly, and take trips to the non-profit agencies the Portage Retail Center supports every year.
“When students first get on the Youth Council, the first thing they tell us is that they had no idea there were so many non-profit agencies around the county, and were surprised at all of the good work they do,” said Linda Snyder.
ORGANIZATIONS RECEIVING PORTAGE RESALE CENTER GRANTS IN 2020:
- Ottawa County Family Advocacy Center: CASA, TNT Mentoring, GRAND Love, Summer Lunch and Fun, Ticket to Success
- United Way of Ottawa County
- Light Hour Sober Living Men’s House
- Light Hour Sober Living Women’s House
- Riverview Industries
- Ottawa County Family and Children First Council
- Heartbeat of Ottawa County
- Women Helping Young Mothers
- The American Red Cross
- The Oak House
- Danbury Food Share Program
- Seed Faith Food Pantry
- Arc of Ottawa County
- The Salvation Army
- St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry
- Shoreline Church Car Care Ministry
- Shoreline Church Food Pantry
- Family and Child Abuse Prevention Center
- St. John Lutheran Church
- Ottawa County Holiday Bureau
- Bible Methodist Church
- Ida Rupp Public Library
- Friends of the Marblehead Peninsula Library
- Joyful Connections
- Ottawa County Juvenile Court
- Ottawa County Transitional Housing
- Champions for Children
- Grace Lutheran Church Food Pantry
- Genoa Area Community Food Pantry
- Oak Harbor Alliance Chapel Food Pantry
- BCS Food Pantry
- Christy’s Corner Cafe
- Put-in-Bay Schools
- Genoa Area Schools
- Oak Harbor Schools
- Port Clinton Schools
- Danbury Schools
- Woodmore Schools