salt and light

A patron shops Tuesday at Salt & Light's larger location at 1819 Philo Road, U. The organization continues to accept donated goods at both its Champaign and Urbana locations.

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Doing some more closet cleaning?

At least three local organizations — Salt & Light, Goodwill and Empty Tomb — will welcome donations of your unwanted stuff, while a fourth, Salvation Army of Champaign County, is making plans to close its thrift store for good early next month.

Both Salt & Light thrift store locations are doing well, and the Urbana location at 1819 Philo Road has plenty of storage space, said the organization’s director of development, Lisa Sullivan.

That’s been fortunate as people have used some of the extra time they've spent at home during the pandemic to clean and clear out unwanted clothes and household items, she said.

“Everybody was very anxious to get things out of their houses,” Sullivan said.

Salt & Light’s Urbana thrift store, which also has a grocery, hasn’t closed at all during the pandemic, while the Champaign location at 1512 W. Anthony Drive closed for a time and reopened last month when that was permitted under the governor’s executive order.

Champaign-based Empty Tomb began accepting donations of clothes and household items again June 8, but by the end of June was so overwhelmed with items that it had to call a temporary halt to accepting more, said the organization’s co-founder, Sylvia Ronsvalle.

The community was very generous, she said, but “we had not another place to put something.”

Empty Tomb plans to begin accepting donated items again at the end of this month but will be limiting donors to up to three bags or boxes of items each, she said.

Empty Tomb doesn’t sell its donated items. All items are free to those who need them, “in Jesus’ name,” Ronsvalle said.

To meet social-distancing guidelines, Empty Tomb can accommodate about 45 people a day coming in to pick up items they need, much fewer than in pre-pandemic times.

“We used to get that every hour,” Ronsvalle said.

Capacity limits haven’t been an issue at Salt & Light’s large space in Urbana, Sullivan said.

But Salt & Light is facing a different issue — a need for more volunteer help.

Typically, people earn store credit by putting volunteer hours into the store operation, but a considerable number of those volunteers are older adults or have health issues that could put them at risk for COVID-19, Sullivan said.

Salt & Light has managed to offer those shoppers some emergency store credit with the help of community generosity, Sullivan said. But without the usual availability of University of Illinois, church and community groups coming in to help in recent months, the organization needs more help.

Salt & Light has been running walk-in training sessions for new volunteers each Monday from noon to 1 p.m. at its Urbana location, she said.

To donate clothing, household goods and other items to Salt & Light, bring items to either drive-thru at both the Urbana and Champaign locations. Donations are being accepted on a contact-less basis, with bins available for various categories, such as clothing and household goods.

Ronsvalle said Empty Tomb will likely begin accepting donated goods again sometime during the last week of July, with the date to be announced.

Donors bringing items to Empty Tomb are asked not to leave anything outside the building because those items left outdoors when Empty Tomb is closed would all have to be thrown away, Ronsvalle said.

“Because of the current conditions, anything left outside, we can’t process it,” she said.

Same goes for Salt & Light, which asks donors not to leave items outside regular business hours.

In addition to its drive-thrus, Salt & Light is also offering contact-less furniture donation pickups. Items must be available for pickup on a first floor or in a garage.

Land of Lincoln Goodwill Industries also has a large capacity for donated goods at all its stores in central Illinois, according to Pat Anderson, the organization’s vice president of marketing and communication.

Goodwill also has a 100,000-square-foot warehouse in Jacksonville, “so we’re transporting donated goods back and forth on a daily basis,” he said.

All donated goods are being quarantined, either at the stores or at the warehouse, before they are made available for sale.

Both the Savoy and Champaign Goodwill stores are open for business. The Champaign store, which closed briefly this month because one of the employees tested positive for the coronavirus, reopened Monday.

Donors are asked to leave items they are giving to Goodwill outside each shop’s donation door during normal business hours on a contact-less basis. Receipts can be provided by email for those who want them, Anderson said.

The Salvation Army of Champaign County has been directing the community to take donated items to other stores that accept them, since it no longer can accept these items itself. The organization announced Monday that its thrift store at 2212 N. Market St., C, will reopen July 27 for a liquidation sale and close for good Aug. 8.

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