HEARTS AFIRE, Store provides welcoming atmosphere, help for grieving families

EMMA ROUTLEY/THE CHRONICLEA mannequin reminds everyone to “Keep Calm and Maintain Social Distancing.”

Hearts for Hospice continues to care for the Springfield community despite the challenges a pandemic can bring.

The face of Hearts for Hospice is a thrift store located at 444 Main St. in Springfield, but there is much more depth to the nonprofit than shopping. Hearts for Hospice has had a mission to support the several hospice programs it partners with in Lane County since it began in October 2012, and has made the necessary adjustments to continue serving the community responsibly during this time.

Ashley Atkinson, 35, of Pleasant Hill, has been the Marketing and Volunteer Coordinator at Hearts for Hospice since 2018. When making the decision to reopen after the shutdown in mid-March, Atkinson said they sent out a survey to the volunteers to make sure they would have enough people to reopen. She says the nonprofit is “100% powered by volunteers.” 

EMMA ROUTLEY/THE CHRONICLEAshley Atkinson (right) with board director and longtime employee Nichol Rauch (left), who has worked at Hearts for Hospice since it opened in 2012.

Hearts for Hospice was able to confirm a core group of volunteers and reopen on June 10. Many of the volunteers have personal ties with hospice, Atkinson said, and receiving donations from families fresh out of the hospice process is often a healing and emotional experience.

Going through the personal items of a deceased family member is already hard enough, and families can trust that the sales from their donations will go back into the hospice programs that have helped them through their grief.

“It’s not uncommon for there to be some tears in our shop,” Atkinson said. “To know that you can give your loved ones items to a place that’s going to take care of them and then going to use that money to support the hospice organization that has meant so much to your family, that’s how we get a lot of our items.”

EMMA ROUTLEY/THE CHRONICLEMasks, hand sanitizer and a check-in sheet is the first stop at the entrance.

Reduced hours and sanitization precautions are in place to keep everyone safe. Masks and hand sanitizer are offered at the entrance of the shop. Donations are first taken to the warehouse where they sit for 72 hours before being brought into the store, and then clothing items are steamed. To maintain social distancing, only six customers are allowed in the store at one time.

“We’ve created some limitations,” Atkinson said. “But so far it’s been really easy to enforce just because customers are so kind and understanding.”

Although Hearts for Hospice may have closed for a few months during the beginning of the pandemic, donations didn’t stop coming. Typically, the warehouse is storage for bigger furniture or medical items that won’t fit in the shop, but due to the buildup of inventory, the warehouse sales that were popular in 2019 have made a comeback. Last week was the first big warehouse sale of 2020.

EMMA ROUTLEY/THE CHRONICLELiving room furniture is available at the in-store location.

Atkinson said they plan on continuing the warehouse sales throughout the year. “It’s really great furniture. Mirrors, lamps, golf clubs … it’s amazing what was up for sale last week.”

Other plans for the future include getting back to the things that they love most about downtown Springfield, Atkinson said. The Second Friday Art Walk and fundraisers are just some of the ways they’re excited to get involved with the community.

“Normal seems so hard to get back to,” Atkinson said. “We’re sitting tight, business as usual, but we’re excited to get those events going again.”



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