Focused on children’s clothing and supplies, the AGAPE donation center at the Moose Exchange has been up and running since mid-September, thanks to the work of a tireless volunteer named Rachel Troychock.
Rachel took some time recently to answer a few questions for us.
Q. What do you do for a living?
I am a Manager of Technology Learning Services at KPMG (geeky computer stuff). I work remotely and the rest of my team is in Montvale, NJ and Washington, DC.
Q. How did you become involved in the Moose Exchange donation center?
I volunteered through AGAPE to prepare meals the first few days after the flood and soon was offered the opportunity to open this location through my friend and realtor, Kathy Lowe, who is the volunteer coordinator for the flood relief efforts through AGAPE. I took two weeks of vacation at first, but now I am back to work full time on an altered schedule to keep the center open. Yesterday, with our son being sick was my first time my husband and I were away from the donation center since we opened. I am so grateful for my family, friends and new friends we have made along the way.
Q. Can you give us a brief overview of what sorts of donations you received at the Moose Exchange?
We’ve received a little bit of everything. Most donations contain some toys and clothing, but we’ve had folks come in – ask us what we need and then return with either used or brand new items. If there is a need I’ve posted on Facebook in the relief groups (such as Bloomsburg Flood 2011 – Neighbors Helping Neighbors and Flood 2011 Relief From Bloomsburg PA Natives) and within a day or two we’ve gotten what we asked for.
The donation center carries (in no particular order) diapers, wipes, formula, baby food, clothing from preemie to 14/16 and Juniors, coats, hats/gloves/scarves, car seats, strollers, high chairs, booster seats (both for cars and dining), baby and adult toiletries, monitors, crib/toddler/twin size bedding including quilts, cribs, bassinets/cradles, mother/nursing supplies (nursing pads, pumps, maternity/nursing clothing), etc… We also have an assortment of games, books and coloring books for kids of every age.
Q. Where did these donations come from? What was the breakdown of private donations/businesses…all local or did some supplies come in from out of the area?
I’m not sure where the donations sent from AGAPE came from originally although some of the boxes we unpacked that first day were marked as being from FEMA.
We’ve received many, many, many donations from local residents… We didn’t start tracking the donations that were coming in until we had been open several days, but over the past two weeks we’ve had close to 60 donations (not counting the many who snuck in after-hours – sadly, AGAPE won’t receive any information on these donations – having the value of the donations helps).
Q. How many families-in-need have been helped so far by the donation program?
We’ve helped over 90 families, many of which have been in several times. Most of the families coming in still don’t seem to have a permanent place to stay yet. We have several families camping behind or near their homes. That being said I think the need is still there, but the victims aren’t necessarily ready to take more than the essentials.
Q. I heard that you did a door-to-door canvas last month. What were the results of that?
Due to lack of volunteers and rainy weather we haven’t been able to go door-to-door again, but it did seem to help. My husband and another volunteer spent about an hour walking thru west Bloom and called in orders which we packed up and delivered. We were able to reach 5 families that either didn’t know we were there or hadn’t made the time to come visit us. A few of those families have been back to see us again!
I’m going to be calling some of the families that have come through to catch up and see if we can provide any more assistance to them. I’m also going to try to get a hold of folks at each of the schools to send fliers which can be distributed.
Q. Are you anticipating more families coming in to the Moose Exchange to pick up supplies? If so, how many?
Most definitely. We’re averaging about 7 families per day we’re open, but we’re seeing the amount of families is increasing over time. Some of that is because we’ve shortened our hours, but it is also because familes are finally getting back into homes (whether it is their home or a rental property until work on their home is complete). Monday we helped over 10 families and yesterday was over a dozen.
Q. Are there any donations currently needed by the Moose Exchange?
Bookbags, winter coats/hats/gloves (especially in the larger children’s sizes – 3T and up), winter girls clothing in 3T and 5T.
The needs seem to change every week though, so I encourage people to contact me before bringing in donations.
If you are in need of children’s supplies, wish to donate, or want to volunteer to help at the Moose Exchange donation center, please contact Rachel at: 862-812-9855 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jen Ralston, The Bloomsburg Daily
Photo courtesy Sue Zarrett