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

Judy and Ken Reid share a smile at Peace Arch Hospital in 2018. Judy raised concerns last month about how the COVID-19 vaccine would be rolled out. Now, she says no one is telling residents or families when they will start to see restrictions ease. (Contributed photo)
Timeline for reduced restrictions in long-term care a concern for spouse of South Surrey senior

‘We’re not yet at that point,’ says provincial health officer

TEASE PHOTO: Teens at the Bumpers dance club in Whalley in the 1980s, in a photo posted to the "Bumpers / The Zone OFFICIAL Party Page" on Facebook.com.
SURREY NOW & THEN: Bumpers and other teen dance clubs were big in the 1980s

A weekly look back at Surrey-area landmark sites and events

Gurinder Mann. (Submitted photo)
Surrey man receives prestigious restorative justice award

East Newton resident Gurinder Mann one of five to receive a Community Safety and Crime Prevention Award

An example of a Surrey Police cruiser, showcased at Mayor Doug McCallum’s State of the City Address at Civic Hotel in May of 2019. (File photo: Amy Reid)
Surrey Police Service looking to hire in-house lawyer

Solicitor to work within Office of the Chief Constable, serve on internal and external committees to ‘represent the SPS’s interests’

Surrey provincial court. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
New COVID-19 protocols set for provincial courthouses

The new rules were issued on Jan. 21, and took effect immediately

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 is International Lego Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 24 to 30

Lego Day, Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day and Puzzle Day are all coming up this week

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

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

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Police in Vancouver looking for male suspect who allegedly spat and attacked a store manager for not wearing a mask, at 7-Eleven near Alma Street and West 10th Avenue just before noon on Dec. 17, 2020. (Vancouver police handout)
VIDEO: Man spits on 7-Eleven manager over mask rule, sparking Vancouver police probe

‘Unfortunately, the store manager sustained a cut to his head during the assault’

The Vancouver-based SAR team successfully rescued two lost snowshoers off of the west side of Tim Jones Peak in the early morning of Monday, Jan. 19. (North Shore Rescue photo)
B.C.’s busiest SAR team raises alarm after 2021 begins with fatality, multiple rescues

‘People beyond ski resort areas of Seymour, Grouse, and Cypress go without cell reception,’ SAR warns

Most Read