Agape Reopens With Restrictions

Managing Editor

After nearly two months of being shut down amid Gov. Mike DeWine’s stay-at-home order and other restrictions, retailers throughout the state such as Agape Ministries, Inc. will be reopening. 

Agape’s thrift store — which is the food pantry’s main source of revenue — will reopen at 9 a.m. May 12. Normal hours will resume for the store from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays, while donations will be accepted beginning 9 a.m to 2 p.m. May 16. Donations will also be accepted during those same times every Saturday in May and June with the hope that a regular schedule of daily donations will resume in July.

The thrift store has been closed since March 18 and no donations have been accepted since March 19. 

Agape Executive Director Patti Hamilton said when people come to drop off their donations, they will stay in their vehicle while Agape’s volunteers will unload items. Instead of driving under the awning where the side doors are, those looking to donate items are asked to drive forward to Agape’s warehouse further back.

“They can stay in their cars and we will unload,” Hamilton said. “And then depending on where it is, our volunteers will know where it needs to go.”

Hamilton added that volunteers will have gloves and masks on while they are unloading vehicles. 

With nearly two months of no donations and many people doing their spring cleaning during the pandemic, Hamilton said she expects donations to pour in on the first day on May 16. 

“We have had 10 calls a day asking when we are going to be open to take donations,” she said. 

Agape will receive donations every Saturday in May and June from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m, but Hamilton added that if vehicles that are in line do not get in the parking lot by 2 p.m., they will have to wait another week to donate. 

She said she has barricades that Agape has been using during the shutdown to keep traffic out of the thrift store and the food pantry’s parking lot that she
will use once it is past 2 p.m.

“If I didn’t do that, we would never be able to leave,” she added. “I understand and I anticipate a line waiting to get in.”

Hamilton said she contacted Director of Public Service and Safety Greg Foxhoven and Police Chief Jake Sutton to make them aware of the situation and hopes that traffic will not back up onto Spring Street. 

“I’m hoping that people will get here early and wait in line so it will be a little less waiting between 1 and 2,” Hamilton added. “So many people have been off work and I know what I would do if I was off work — clean my house. And I feel so wonderful that people want to do that and we feel very fortunate that they still want to hang on to it and give it to us, it is just about getting it all in and getting through it the next week. It is going to take all we have to get through that.”

Hamilton is asking people who are donating to bag or box up clothes to make it easier for volunteers to unload and store the donations. Keeping items in some kind of container will also help volunteers and Hamilton asks for no clothes hanger donations.

The layout of the store will also change to allow better flow for customers and have a better way for them to shop while still practicing social distancing. Barriers are also up at the counters and Hamilton said the store will open with one cashier unless a second cashier is needed. 

Employee’s temperatures will also be checked twice a day. Agape is requiring customers who want to shop at the store to bring their own masks. Only 20 customers will be allowed in the store at one time and Hamilton added that an employee will be counting the number of customers. All store employees will be wearing masks and gloves.