By Judy Langford

In celebration of 30 years serving this community, the James Bay United Church Thrift Shop at 517 Michigan has undergone a transformation! “It’s all about the people” is the shop’s guiding principle. And they’re not just referring to their wonderful customers and donors; they’re talking about their wonderful volunteers too.

Renovations are now complete in all the downstairs sales rooms, making them brighter, more accessible and welcoming. Customers will appreciate the new look and feel of the place. In recognition of the hard work of the dedicated volunteers, the upstairs sorting/gathering area of this old house has received new bright lighting, shelving, kitchen space and flooring. It means a safer, cleaner environment for the people who “make the magic happen.”

New volunteers are always welcome! It’s a very fun group of people, enjoying each other and taking pride in the work. We are currently open on Fridays from 10am to 2pm, but there are plans to also be open on Saturdays come spring. To complete the renovation, we were closed for the holiday season and the month of January.

The shop is now ready to receive donations of clothing for families, housewares, linens and notions, hardware, small appliances and books! Donations can be dropped off on Wednesday and Thursday mornings as well as during our sales hours on Fridays. A warm invitation is extended to the community to see the transformation of this busy, happy place.

One of the best additions to the Friday sales has been a large white canopy, visible from many corners of the neighbourhood. It provides outdoor shelter for the volunteers and customers and keeps the displays dry and tidy. It’s under the canopy that customers find treasures of all kinds - that exact cable they’ve been needing for their electronics, a vintage vase, a just-like-new toaster oven, the perfect cat carrier.

Our volunteer team is pleased and proud to support the good work of James Bay United Church, including its outreach, spiritual impact and pastoral care in the community. We are also grateful for the leadership of the church in the James Bay Refugee Sponsorship Initiative which welcomed close to one hundred people to its first meeting at the church on December 12, 2015. The James Bay community has been typically generous in its response to the call for support on behalf of the Syrian refugees who will arrive in Victoria over the next year or so. Gifts of money, time and expertise are all necessary for the sponsorship to work. 

The January 16 meeting of the initiative, hosted by the church, saw many community members eager to be in on the planning and implementation of the project. Have you been looking for a way to be involved? If you were unable to attend the meeting and feel drawn to this international outreach or if you would like to be included in the distribution list, please call 250-384-5821 or email There will be many ways in which people can offer help, including working with the application process, fundraising, communication, phoning, organizing volunteers, transportation and orientation to Victoria once the newcomers arrive.

The James Bay United Church Thrift Shop, through its financial support of the work of the church and through donations of household goods for use by the refugees upon their arrival, is thankful to be part of the important work of welcoming these newcomers.