Covid-19Magazine Exclusive

Thrifty shoppers rejoice

The Salvation Army’s five family stores in the Worcester, Mass., area opened in early May to crowds of anxious shoppers.

The local Telegram & Gazette newspaper said bargain–hunters were “just grabbing everything” off the shelves, thanks to a 50 percent–off sale.

“We just finished our first week of sales and it seems people are happy that we’re back,” said Captain Tammy Stewart, the assistant administrator for the Worcester Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC). “Things are going well for us here. They’re excited that the stores are open again.

“I think in general, a lot of people are just happy to be out again, and they’re really enjoying the sales.”

The half–off sale only lasted the first few days the stores were open, so shoppers had to act fast.

“I think that helped draw a lot of people in,” Stewart said. “We’re hearing people talk about the nice deals they’re getting. I think they are buying more than they normally would because of the sale.”

The ARCs and family stores around the territory are slowly reopening as COVID–19 restrictions lift in each state. Ohio was the first state to reopen and others followed.

The ARC beneficiaries are almost as excited as the shoppers. Stewart said the beneficiaries of the Worcester ARC were largely quarantined during the COVID–19 shutdown. Fortunately, everyone tested negative for the virus.

Employee Raul Olivo working in warehouse.

“Everyone followed the restrictions,” she said. “Our folks were actually quite good about it. They listened to us. We kept changing what they were and weren’t allowed to do. They cooperated well with us.

“We did our best to keep them out of the general public. We didn’t have them working the warehouse. We didn’t have them going out on trucks. We didn’t have them doing anything like that where they could be exposed.”

The warehouse opened June 15. Beneficiaries worked alongside employees, wore masks and gloves, used hand sanitizer, and practiced social distancing.

“It’s not always possible to stay 6 feet away from someone when we’re working in the warehouse, but we’re doing our best,” Stewart said.

Stewart lives at the ARC, where she assists Captains Donald and Constance B. Graham, ARC administrators. Stewart said beneficiary counseling was done remotely, but she was also there to help.

“They were coming to us with things they would typically go to their counselors for,” she said. “We talked about difficult times and how we get through them and we have to trust God to get us through these situations. Everyone was very good for us.

“We didn’t have the stores open or the warehouse open, but that just meant we had to come up with other ways to interact with everyone and help keep them busy. We set up extracurricular activities for them and different groups to help them get through all of this.”

by Robert Mitchell

Previous post

From anxiety to outrage to hope

Next post

A moving donation