Janet Child stands with her husband Al and her grandchildren. Janet and her family helped build the Toolbox float for the 2019 rodeo parade. (Photo submitted)

Janet Child stands with her husband Al and her grandchildren. Janet and her family helped build the Toolbox float for the 2019 rodeo parade. (Photo submitted)

The Surrey Hospice Society’s Toolbox thrift store reopens in Cloverdale

Before she fell ill, Janet Child revamped second-hand tool store

The Toolbox has reopened in Cloverdale.

Surrey’s only secondhand tool thrift store is open for business once again after being closed for nearly four months.

The store relies on donations of “gently used tools that are in working order,” says Rebecca Smith, executive director of the Surrey Hospice Society. The Hospice Society operates the Toolbox—located at 5625 176 Street—as a fundraising endeavour.

But the story of why the Toolbox was closed in the first place is a story of the Surrey Hospice Society.

Smith says the Toolbox first opened in November, 2017, and struggled for its first year with volunteers that didn’t have management experience or weren’t suited for the job.

“When she came in, she was a breath of fresh air,” says Smith. “She was the heart and soul of the Toolbox; she made it into what it is now.”

That she was Janet Child, a long-time volunteer at the Hospice Society’s clothing thrift store in Newton. When Janet arrived at the Toolbox in November, 2018, things changed significantly.

“Our store had gone from looking like a dumpy place with things just strewn on the shelves, to being organized, to being bright, and to being cheerful.”

Janet made the place her own. She set up a colouring station for kids, so parents could shop without being distracted. She set up a coffee station to encourage passersby to come in for a java and a chat. She got some dog bowls and filled them with water to encourage customers to bring their dogs with them.

She also came up with the idea of a toolpurse. “It was for independent women,” explains Smith. “Janet filled purses with the basic tools so women could do some work around their homes without having to call on anyone.”

Janet also set up a “mystery tools” display case behind the cash drawer. Filled with antique and esoteric tools, she encouraged customers to help identify their names and uses.

“Customers loved to come in and just chat with Janet.”

Janet knew a lot about tools and her vision drove the store. But her time in the store was cut short when she became ill.

That illness was cancer. Janet had felt sick early in 2019 and was diagnosed five months ago.

That is why the store had been closed recently, as Smith didn’t have anyone to run it. “Lyndsey McWhirter took on the role [of manager] with the urging of Janet—who was her friend,” adds Smith.

One of Janet’s ideas for revamping the store was to paint a large tree—also the symbol of the Hospice Society—in the window. Her idea would be to sell the leaves as a fundraising and commemorative initiative.

The tree—Janet’s Tree—was a success. Janet sold more than 100 leaves for the tree’s sprawling branches, allowing customers and supporters to place the name of a loved one in the store’s window.

“People bought the leaves in memory or honour of someone they loved that passed, or was struggling with a palliative illness,” explains Smith.

Smith says she will continue to push forward with McWhirter to bring Janet’s ideas to the store.

“We’re going to try to make them all happen,” she says. “I wasn’t 100 per cent sure we were going to make the store work when we started it [in 2017], but it was Janet’s ideas, her will, and her personality that made the store what it is.”

Smith says when they first opened the Toolbox, she didn’t feel like it belonged. But she realizes now, in approaching it the way Janet did, the recipe for success lies in the love, the compassion, and the personality that Janet threw into it.

Smith says the Toolbox is not a significant source of income for the Surrey Hospice Society.

“We’re working towards that,” Smith explains. “We need it to be. We really need it to be. I think Cloverdale needs it to be. Our downtown core doesn’t have enough retail and thriving businesses.”

Smith says Toolbox shoppers will not spend more for tools than they would elsewhere.

“They are good tools. We only sell things that are in good shape, but cheaper than anywhere else,” she notes. “It’s a change in mindset. Don’t throw away. Save the environment in the process, support a local charity, support a local business.”

As she reopens the store, Smith remembers the first time she met Janet.

“Janet was our Sunday supervisor at the Newton thrift store—and she was a chatter,” laughs Smith. “She loved to talk and talk and talk. Friendly. Laughed all the time. She adored her grandchildren.”

Smith explains Janet really wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. She says Janet understood hospice was about giving people the opportunity to live as fully as they could—until the last minute—and to help those left behind journey through their grief.

“That’s what drove her.”

The challenge for the Surrey Hospice Society now, says Smith, is that Janet is “one of our hospice family. So, we have to turn our services inward a little bit, which is difficult.”

Smith adds the other thrift store volunteers have all been deeply affected by Janet’s illness.

“I think we need to acknowledge there are heroes in our communities that we don’t even realize,” she says as she holds back tears. “The Toolbox is there to make a difference, for hospice, for the environment, for the community. Janet made that happen.”

“The tree is still (in the window),” adds Smith. “It’s beautiful.”

Janet’s Tree, a symbol for the memories of other people’s loved ones, now stands in memory of Janet, too, as she died on Dec. 6.



editor@cloverdalereporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Janet Child, former manager of the Toolbox, stands with her husband Al in this undated photo. (Submitted)

Janet Child, former manager of the Toolbox, stands with her husband Al in this undated photo. (Submitted)

The Toolbox in Cloverdale has reopened. (Photo: Malin Jordan)

The Toolbox in Cloverdale has reopened. (Photo: Malin Jordan)

Just Posted

Jack Herring, 3, met Santa at a 2017 ‘Cram the Cruiser’ event held by White Rock RCMP. This Saturday (Nov. 28), the detachment will host a drive-thru collection drive as part of its month-long children’s clothing drive. (File photo)
Children’s clothing, winter wear sought at White Rock RCMP ‘main event’

Drive-thru collection day set for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 28

Lisa Werring, Surrey Christmas Bureau boss, inside the charity’s new home. (Submitted photo)
‘Toys, toys, toys, we need toys’: Surrey Christmas Bureau calls for donations

‘It’s been a challenging season to say the least. Every day is a new adventure,’ says bureau boss Lisa Werring

Extras in Promises include many who currently serve in uniform in law enforcement, the military and the Canadian Border Services Agency. Contributed photo
Movie traces Punjabi soldiers’ role in battle during Second World War

Surrey director and White Rock councillor participate in film project

Sukhi Sandhu, organizer of Wake Up Surrey. (File photo)
Wake Up Surrey welcomes Lipinski as city’s new police chief

But Surrey Police Service will not solve Surrey’s gang violence on its own, Sukhi Sandhu says

(Photo: Amy Reid)
VIDEO: 2020 Community Leader Awards recognize Surrey’s unsung heroes

They don’t often receive recognition and don’t necessarily have a high profile in the community

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the project site in Kitimat. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Forty-one positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-19: What do rising positivity rates mean for B.C.? It’s not entirely clear

Coronavirus cases are on the rise but the province has not unveiled clear thresholds for further measures

A rider carves a path on Yanks Peak Saturday, Nov. 21. Two men from Prince George went missing on the mountain the next day. One of them, Colin Jalbert, made it back after digging out his sled from four feet under the snow. The other, Mike Harbak, is still missing. Local search and rescue teams went out looking Monday, Nov. 23. (Sam Fait Photo)
‘I could still be the one out there’: Snowmobiler rescued, 1 missing on northern B.C. mountain

As Quesnel search and rescue teams search for the remaining rider, Colin Jalbert is resting at home

Most Read