The end is no longer near for the Good Cause Thrift Shop.

The popular thrift store, which has operated in downtown Portland for more than 20 years to raise money for Catherine McAuley High School Scholarships, was slated to close March 19 because school officials said the cost to support it had become too high.

But after news of the closure got out, longtime employees began raising money and on Thursday they announced that the shop will remain open.

Since Catherine McAuley High School opened the store 22 years ago on Congress Street near Longfellow Square, Good Cause has raised more than $1 million on behalf of student scholarships. The store moved to 16 Forest Avenue, in the Portland Arts District, about eight years ago, a location beneath a 160-unit apartment complex for seniors and low-income tenants that gave it a built-in clientele.

As of April 1, the store will no longer be affiliated with McAuley High School and will be renamed “Still the Good Cause.”

“We hope that it works out. We’d like to see the store continue,” Kathryn Barr, Head of School, said Thursday.

The shop will continue to rely on donations of furniture, clothing and books, and will be operated by six full- and part-time employees, all of whom have worked at the Good Cause Thrift Shop for years as Catherine McAuley employees.

“We get hundreds if not thousands of people, who donate items to us from as far away as Bath,” said Gary Savage, one of the six employees.

Savage and his co-workers said the store is in dire need of volunteers like Kathleen Ricker, who has donated her time for 20 years. The volunteer corps has dwindled from about 70 people to just 10.

“I love working here because I love helping people,” Ricker said.

The store will continue to operate as a nonprofit, but it will be aligned with the Mercy Healthcare Foundation, with most of the money it raises going to support the McAuley Residence, a transitional housing program for single mothers in Portland.

Just a few days ago, the future of the thrift shop didn’t look so promising.

McAuley officials said its decision to close the shop was a hard one, but necessary because increases in rent and other expenses had required the school to subsidize the store.

“We just couldn’t continue spending tuition money to support Good Cause,” Barr said.

She said that while Catherine McAuley is grateful for the money the store raised for scholarships, the financial strain it was putting on the school budget had become untenable.

When news of the planned closure started to trickle out two weeks ago, residents of the apartments above the thrift shop circulated a petition asking McAuley to reconsider its decision. Savage said he was told around 700 people signed it. Many of the store’s frequent customers are low-income seniors who live in the 160 apartments above the shop.

The morning after a Maine Sunday Telegram story about the store’s impending closure, employees were inundated with calls from people willing to donate money to keep it open, Savage said. Donations as high as $5,000 have come from people who recognize the need to have a thrift shop to serve seniors on fixed incomes and others who need affordable clothes and household items, he said.

“It’s amazing what is happening right now. The amount of people stepping forward to support us is overwhelming,” Savage said. “We service such a vital part of the community.”

Store manager Katie Guzman said customers not only come in to shop for goods, but they come in knowing they will be able to talk about their problems with caring people.

“We are also social workers here,” she said.

Dale Perry was one of those who came in for help. She was having a tough time getting over the death of her parents and the store workers helped with her grief. Now Perry is one of the store’s six employees.

“I was my parents’ caretaker,” Perry said. “(Good Cause) saved me.”

To make a donation or to become a volunteer, call 772-4903.