Nonprofit warehouse closure causes budget hits
The closure announced last week of a large Gifts-In-Kind warehouse store in Spartanburg is causing at least a couple of Laurens County non-profits to seek how they’ll fill the budgetary void left from the store’s closure.
The warehouse-style store was run by the United Way of the Piedmont and supplied by Walmart, which donated overruns to the center so that nonprofits could better continue their missions. It served about 100 Upstate nonprofits, each of which paid an annual membership fee and then was granted a “free shopping trip” each month.
“The first time we went to check it out as a guest we came back with more than $2,000 in items needed to run the shelter and help clients,” said Laurens County Safe Home Director Dawn Ardelt. “We have used their service for years now and we’re not even sure how much that monthly budget item would have been because we were able to get so much. We just know it will be a big hit.”
G Ramage, the board chair for the Laurens County Cancer Association, used identical words to explain the closure’s impact.
“It’s a big hit,” Ramage said. “This is a big, big deal, and we don’t know how we’ll be able to cover the cost of all the items we give out to all our cancer patients each month.”
These are just two of the local nonprofits who monthly filled vehicles with everything from toilet paper, non-perishables and paper towels, to diapers for the Safe Home and protein drinks for the LCCA’s cancer patients.
“The last time I went I was able to get a full pallet of protein drinks,” Ramage said. “It had to be worth at least $1,000. Ensure can be hard to even find. Cancer patients often have a hard time eating and protein drinks are very expensive. We provided that and other household goods to offset their expenses.”
The Safe Home’s monthly client boxes included diapers, feminine hygiene products and other things needed when assisting dozens of women in and out of shelters.
“I will never forget learning that a woman had returned to her abuser and she told me it was because he promised to buy diapers, and we have never since let diapers be a reason for a women to leave a safe place,” Ardelt said. “Now we will plan to seek out some of our churches who contribute and request some additional help. But otherwise this is really new and we don’t have a plan yet.”
Ramage said he knows there are other nonprofits in their situation.
“It was such an important service that I can’t imagine that other nonprofits in Laurens County weren’t also relying on the Gifts-In-Kind store. We will have to find another revenue stream,” Ramage said.
Both nonprofits would hate to see this portion of their service end.
For those who are interested in assisting, donation links and contact information are can be accessed on the LCCA’s website, www.hopeincommunity.org, and the Laurens County Safe Home website, www.thesafehome.org.