Things still aren’t quite back to normal along North Third Avenue in Oakdale, as road construction continues and shop owners transition their focus to holiday shopping and a little bit of cheer.
Taking a proactive approach to bring shoppers, as well as business owners a little reprieve from much of the angst, Roberts Ferry Gourmet owner Kim West has launched the Holiday Helper program, aimed at helping shoppers with transporting their packages from shop to car.
Launching the program this past weekend, as much of North Third hosted their annual Holiday Open House events, West shared the helper sign-ups were a bit light.
“I think that a lot of people don’t know that it’s happening, so a lot of people didn’t ask for help,” West said of the opening weekend.
Her intention is to provide Holiday Helpers for shoppers and shop owners seven days a week beginning Black Friday and continuing through Friday, Dec. 23. Volunteer times are from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. Volunteer groups as well as individuals may sign up for volunteer opportunities by visiting Roberts Ferry Gourmet Instagram and following the link in bio or visiting www.robertsferrygourmet.com and clicking on the Oakdale location.
“I just want the downtown old-fashioned feeling,” West shared, noting that she encourages the Holiday Helpers to spread positivity and joy throughout the Third Avenue corridor, in addition to helping with purchases. “People are wandering and they’re greeted and we can bring back social interaction.”
Proving to be a true community event, Love Oakdale also made aprons for the helpers, which will help distinguish the helpers from holiday shoppers.
Currently, West shared, they are equipped with the “Holiday Helper” aprons, as well as a cart with off road tires and holiday lights to add some festiveness. The cart is used to help get purchases safely to vehicles.
“Even if no one needs help, we just want to spread cheer and positivity and make it a really welcoming environment,” West said.
Right now they have approximately two dozen volunteers signed up for the varying days ahead during the holiday season, but can definitely use more to fill the days and total hours.
“We’ll take any support that we can get,” West said. “The goal is to encourage people to want to come to Third Avenue.”
While the avenue has been under construction for months, West stressed they want to focus on the good.
“We want to change the narrative and have it be when they get here they say, ‘wow it was worth it’,” she continued.
As for taking on the task of coordinating volunteers during peak season for her own business, West shared for her it was a “no brainer,” simply by listening to the concerns of her neighbors and looking for a proactive solution in an uncertain time.
“Honestly I’d love for them to regain a sense of camaraderie, companionship and just that community sense vibe downtown again,” she said of her hope for North Third and its business owners. “I feel as if, downtown has lost that and really downtown should be the heart of the gathering of the community.”