EUGENE, Ore. – Leaders of St. Vincent de Paul say donations are up at their stores, as many look to stretch their dollar further amid a pandemic.
Executive Director Terry McDonald said the stores were closed for a couple months at the beginning of the pandemic, but once they reopened, donations started to climb. Now, donations are greater than they were this time last year.
“I think it’s largely because people are home so much. So, if you’ve got nothing to do but repair your house, mow your own and clean out your closets, that’s probably what you do,” McDonald said.
St. Vincent de Paul is still accepting donations as usual, but will no longer enter private homes to retrieve larger items.
The organization also reorganized the inside of their stores, doubled down on cleaning and made sure there was room for social distancing. Despite closing three locations because they’re too small for social distancing, McDonald said traffic has remained steady, if not slightly higher than usual.
“There’s more value shopping going on now. People have less income in many cases and so it’s important for people to try and make their money stretch and we try and make that possibility available for them,” McDonald said.
McDonald put a call out for jackets, sleeping bags and blankets to help keep a booming homeless population warm.
“The need is way, way up,” McDonald said. “The number of homeless that we’re seeing is probably double what we saw last year. It’s a staggering number of people.”
Despite offering secondhand items, McDonald said he hasn’t heard of many concerns from customers that the virus could spread through merchandise.
All donations are quarantined for three days before ending up on store shelves, as laid out in public health guidelines.
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