Christmas came early for Wayne County’s Green Angels this year.
Late last month the nonprofit group closed on a 2,700-square-foot building on 1.7 acres at 2247 Route 21 in Palmyra that formerly housed the Little Hill Chapel. The Green Angels moved into its new digs last weekend, after finishing its annual Holiday Free-Cycle where hundreds of families in need receive toys, books, household items and clothing.
This year’s event was held Dec. 8 at Sodus High School.
“We essentially flipped our inventory,” Doyle said. “We moved in [to the new building] on our way back from Sodus.”
Over 10 years, this completely private, grass roots organization has grown exponentially — to the point where it has been using seven storage units in Monroe and Wayne counties to store the donations it collects year round.
Bill Doyle, who founded the group with his wife, Marya Vande-Doyle, said the purchase will allow The Green Angels to shed six of those storage units (they’ll keep the one in downtown Rochester for the convenience of Monroe County donors). It will also enable the organization to serve more people, host more volunteers and create a better experience for their customers.
The Green Angels board has been seriously looking for a new home for about three years, Doyle said. The purchase was made possible with $50,000 grants each from the Saunders Foundation and Bullis Fund administered by the Rochester Area Community Foundation, as well as favorable financing from the Community Bank in Palmyra and donations from Green Angels supporters — from corporate supporters to children who hold penny drives — whose funds Doyle said are critical.
“That’s what’s going to keep the lights on,” he said.
The building features one main floor and a full basement that Doyle said will be ideal to store bicycles. The structure is in good shape; the main work to be done is converting it to a space that fulfills the organization’s needs. Doyle and his wife envision floor-to-ceiling shelving in the main worship area to store all of the group’s storage bins.
The new site is not a retail location but will enable the Green Angels to host groups who want to spend a few hours sorting and organizing donated items — since a building is a much more attractive venue than a cramped, unheated storage unit.
It will also make the group more effective, Doyle said, since the volunteers can better organize and label donations in one consolidated area.
“We’ll know what we have,” he said.
Doyle also said the new location will also allow the group to better use its volunteer force to support scheduled days/times to accept donations and add deliveries to clients throughout the year.
“We want to take advantage of the positive energy out there to help out our community ... we’ll need folks to ‘work’ at the building and drivers to deliver to our clients,” he said.
What won’t change is the Holiday Free-Cycle format. Doyle said the Green Angels need much more space than 2,700 square feet for that event and enjoy working with area high schools.
“It’s nice to rotate around throughout Wayne County,” he said.