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September 16, 2020

When The Salvation Army Thrift Store had to temporarily step back from participating in regular community donation drives due to physical distancing and quarantining protocols during COVID-19, Kelly Okamura of KO&Co for gooderGoods stepped in to make sure that her downtown Toronto community was still able to divert textiles from their local landfill.

Working with The Salvation Army Thrift Store, the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood Association, and the St. Lawrence Market, Kelly organized a community donation drive with the help of volunteers to collect textiles that were no longer wanted or needed by neighbours in the area. The drive, held in late August, collected about 16,450 lbs. of textiles and was such an overwhelming success that the donated items exceeded the initial storage capacity for the event.

“We diverted 47 skids that took five truckloads of textiles out of our community.” – Kelly

“We diverted 47 skids that took five truckloads of textiles out of our community,” says Kelly. “The evening rain would have been a disaster for the collected textiles, so a special thanks to The Salvation Army Thrift Store team for extending their shift to accommodate the extra materials.”

Drives like these are an important way to extend the lifecycle of textiles and contribute to environmental sustainability at a local level, and they would not be possible without the dedication and enthusiasm of community leaders like Kelly.

“The most common comment we received was thanks, followed by questions about when the next event was happening,” says Kelly. “We also heard from many people of the special items that had been donated.”

The past few months have proven that even in the midst of a pandemic, people are willing to go above and beyond, donating their time and textiles to help build stronger, greener communities. 

As one of Canada’s original and largest recyclers, The Salvation Army Thrift Store has provided a unique way to serve through retail and recycling for over 100 years. Last year, 37,404 metric tons (82.4 million pounds) of clothing, textiles, household items, and furniture were diverted from local landfills. For more information on donating, please visit