Cowichan thrift store volunteers continue to work despite being at greater risk for COVID-19

Cowichan thrift store volunteers continue to work despite being at greater risk for COVID-19
WatchThree volunteers at the Ladysmith Healthcare Auxiliary Thrift Store have tested positive for COVID-19, and forced the closure of the charity shop that's run by seniors, for the next two weeks. These thrift stores are in small towns all over Vancouver Island and even in the face of the risk, their volunteers keep showing up day after day. Skye Ryan has more.

Tom David was the frontline defense protecting volunteers against COVID-19 at the Cowichan Hospital Auxiliaries Thrift Store on Tuesday.

The 75-year-old who requires a walker could be seen at the entrance, only allowing those into the store who were wearing a mask, and would sanitize their hands first.

“I’m protecting everybody, even myself,” said David, a Duncan resident. “If a person decided not to wear a mask that’s attempted murder for me.”

The small army of 45 volunteers at the Duncan shop are mostly all seniors, some in their ’90s and most vulnerable to COVID-19.

Yet despite considered high-risk due to their age and the fact that a nearby thrift store has had to close for two weeks because workers became infected with COVID-19, volunteers all showed up in Cowichan for their shifts.

“They are brave,” said Susan Leslie, the president of Cowichan Hospital Auxiliaries Thrift Store. “Let’s face it. It’s a scary time.”

These can be considered scary times indeed. B.C. has announced record-high death tolls, including 16 on Dec. 1 and 46 over the weekend. Furthermore, the Ladysmith Healthcare Auxiliary Thrift Store was forced to close for two weeks after three volunteers became infected with COVID.

“With what’s going on in Ladysmith, it does make us nervous. I will admit that,” said Leslie.

But volunteers said their thrift shop is badly needed right now in order to raise funds for patient care at the local hospital and support customers who rely on it.

“They support the hospital and it doesn’t get any better than that,” said shopper Tony Wiersma.

“There’s a lot of people who need this store. For clothes or whatever. They just can’t survive without it,” explained David.


Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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