ACFO’s innovative free thrift store, called a ‘Friperie’ in French, opened at La Citadelle in May of this year. The mission of this thrift store is unique: to serve immigrants and refugees who are coming to Canada with nothing and help them get established with necessities like clothing, housewares, and furniture.
The store is currently housed in a 3,375 square foot space donated for free by La Citadelle high school in partnership with the CSDCEO (Conseil scolaire de district catholique de l’Est ontarien). It is staffed by ACFO and run by many volunteers, including refugees who are waiting for a work permit and special needs students from La Citadelle who take great pride in the work they do there.
Right now, ACFO is putting out an urgent request to the community for donations of winter clothing, specifically winter boots for children, in the next two weeks. The priority is to get warm boots to children who are in school before the colder weather hits, so their learning isn’t interrupted because they don’t have winter gear.
“When you come from another country, you don’t know what winter is about. They start hearing things and they panic. They say, ‘we are cold.’ It’s true because they are not from here. They really need warm clothes,” explained Djenane Turenne, an ACFO employee who works at the Friperie.
Although they are widely known as a local French association, ACFO SDG is much more. They partner with organizations both French and English to offer local solutions to global problems. They aim to welcome and integrate newcomers into our community, who in turn will assist in solving Cornwall’s urgent labor shortage.
“We know we can’t solve the world’s problems but when they are here in our backyard, we do everything through our resources, partnerships and community cohesion to resolve those issues because it is very important for us. We are a city and an area in Cornwall and SDG with a big heart, so we try to help people. Also, it is very important for us as a community for our future economic development to be able to retain people who want to stay here,” said ACFO SDG President Jean-Yves Lemoine.
Since March 11, ACFO has helped more than 365 families from 20 countries get the basics they need their new lives in Canada. Devcore Group recently donated 4 trucks of used furniture to further assist refugees and asylum seekers with the next stages of integration: finding housing and getting settled.
Donations of winter clothes and other household items can be dropped off at ACFO, located at 146C Chevrier Avenue from 9am – 4:30pm Monday to Friday. Monetary donations can be sent by e-transfer to email@example.com. Donations over $20 are eligible for a tax receipt.