SUDBURY -- It's the end of an era in Sudbury as the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to wreak havoc on organizations across the northeast.

The latest being forced into permanent closure is the Salvation Army's Thrift Store, located on Notre Dame Avenue.

"The situation with the thrift store is that for quite some time we were losing money and we just came into a position where we could no longer afford to operate the thrift store," said Captain Deb Vanderheyden.

While donations were not accepted throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the store marked June 22 as its last official day.

Despite the loss of the thrift store, demand has been high for its food bank, which also operates out of the same building.

"So we've served more than 150 households this week, on average," said Mary Milne, who works diligently in the food bank operation. "I'm pretty busy around here. Never slow."

As a result of the increased demand, Milne said a number of new protocols have been put in place as a precautionary measure to the COVID-19 pandemic. Only one person is allowed in lobby at all times, with a barrier and table providing distance between staff and clients. Hand sanitizer is never too far away and food is prepackaged as well.

While facing uncertain and challenging times, Vanderheyden said she is trying to focus on the positive, believing that the newfound space in the building could be used to benefit the community.

"While we are very sad about the decision that we had to make, it was difficult of course, we're excited for what could be," Vanderheyden said. "We envision in this space here a family resource centre. So we have some ideas such as a feeding centre where families could come and bring their children if they need to have a meal."

Vanderheyden also said that the organization has been working with a lot of immigrant families coming from Nigeria. She envisions the potential of running English-language courses out of the facility, as well as continuing to operate a family shelter for women and children.