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Salvation Army boutique opens in Maple Ridge where no money is necessary

The UpCycle trailer will be open every Tuesday and Thursday
A ribbon cutting was held for the grand opening of the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries UpCycle program. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)

A renovated cargo trailer, about six metres long, shelters the latest boutique to open in town.

A boutique that stands out from others in the area, because only clothing changes hands, not money.

Gary Singh, 59, was one of the first customers at UpCycle – a clothing and bicycle trading post – launched by the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries on Thursday, April 28.

Here community members are able to turn in old and warn items in exchange for gently used replacements.

The clothes are separated into different items and displayed nicely on shelves, bins, and clothing racks inside the trailer. Much like a store.

Singh spent about five minutes inside the trailer, and came out with a couple of T-shirts, a pair of shorts, and a pair of insoles for his shoes.

“I need that for my shoes, badly,” he said of the insoles.

Singh, who travelled to Winnepeg from Malasia in 1972, where his sister and sponsor, lived, then to Vancouver in 1982 and eventually to Pitt Meadows where he lived for about 20 years. He has spent the last year at the Salvation Army in Maple Ridge and says they are good to him there.

“They give me three meals, a place to sleep, warm place and try to help me get my own place,” he said.

He was surprized by the launch on Thursday and loved being able to look at clothes that are layed out nicely.

“It’s not like you have to go in the bin and choose it,” said Singh, adding that a place like UpCycle is very helpful to the community.

The renovated trailer will also house a bicycle shop, where bicycles can be repaired and reused.

Both parts of the operation will be run by those in the Genesis Transitional Housing Program – a program that helps those living with mental illness, addiction, and homelessness by giving them a safe, drug free environment for them to live in and work on life skills. For the bicycle shop, people in the program will get training in partnership with Trek, so that they will be able to repair bicycles with the proper knowlege and tools.

Genesis coordinator, Richard McAfee, said giving back is a big part of the program

“We want to be productive members of society, we want to be active in our community, and we want to give back to the same community that we struggled in,” he said, adding that there are lots of homeless people in Maple Ridge and people who don’t have enough money to purchase new articles of clothing.

READ MORE: Salvation Army’s Dignity Breakfast event back after last year’s gap

“We just really want to share what we have with them at the Salvation Army,” he said. “This is an amazing idea that we’re taking all the surplus we have and we’re able to give it to the people that need it and at the same time we’re able to we’re able to have people who have been homeless before be a part of that and give back to people and show them there’s a way out.”

Former executive director Mark Stewart, who was leaving his post on Friday, April 29, for an opportunity in Winnipeg, was excited about the amazing opportunity that Upcycle presents to the community.

“UpCycle is a place for restoring dignity – a place where you can now go and get new clothing from a chic boutique, rather then out of a plastic bag,” he noted.

ALSO: Record-breaking year for Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Christmas kettle campaign

Funding for UpCycle was provided by The Salvation Army Canada’s Innovation Grant, and the City of Maple Ridge’s Innovation Challenge. Additional support came from community businesses: Heritage Electric; West Coast Metro Floors; and Graphix Unlimited.

The official opening of UpCycle took place Thursday, April 28, at 22188 Lougheed Hwy., behind the shelter location at the corner of Lougheed Highway and 222 Street.

The trailer will be open regularly from from 11-12 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays to all those who need it, no questions asked.

Any garments traded in will be either recycled through a local textile recycler, or at the Abbotsford Salvation Army’s Thrift Store.

The Salvation Army Ridge Meadows is a multi-function facility focused on providing the essential needs of food, shelter and support to the residents of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

For more information, or to donate to the UpCycle program at The Salvation Army, email or call 604-463-8296 x 106.

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Genesis coordinator, Richard McAfee, and Amelia Norrie with the local Salvation Army chapter, organize clothing in the UpCycle trailer before the grand opening on Thursday, April 28. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)
A sign welcomes clients to the UpCycle trailer. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)

Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

I got my start with Black Press Media in 2003 as a photojournalist.
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