Free Store reopens in Rio Communities after devastating Del Rio fire
Calling all volunteers. Calling all volunteers.
The Valencia County Abundant Grace Free Store is looking for volunteers to help run its new Rio Communities site after a fire at Del Rio Plaza in Belen forced that location to close.
The store reopened in Rio Communities on July 9 after serving close to 760 clients. The store is now open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 203 Rio Communities Blvd.
“It was like the fire stopped right at our wall,” said volunteer Danene Eager. “Everything had to be cleaned, but (the fire) didn’t touch anything.”
Stacks of clothes from dresses to dress pants were cleaned along with clothing racks and hangars to get the new site ready for use.
The store is a place where families in need can go to pick up anything from clothes to diapers that is all donation-based.
Families are given a card to track which items are given out with no requirements of income or proof of residency.
There are certain restrictions on the amount of items people can take once a month. For instance, people can pick up to 25 pieces of adult clothing and 20 pieces of children’s clothing on any one visit.
The free store offers an unlimited amount of items for residents who are in need because of an emergency situation.
The Valencia County store is an extension of the free store at Harwood United Methodist Church in Albuquerque. Rent and utilities for both stores are being paid through a $44,000 endowment that was set aside for mission outreach work, according to Reuben Thomas, associate pastor at St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church in Albuquerque.
Thomas, who oversees both sites, said church officials came up with the free store idea from a presentation about a similar site in Columbus, Ohio, in 2009.
He said the funding will be available to both stores through 2012. But Thomas said he thinks funding for the sites can continue indefinitely.
“It will be there,” Thomas said. “We will keep it going. It has proved it’s something that is needed.”
That need is apparent in Valencia County.
Volunteers said the store has averaged 60 families per day and now has a lot more space in a 3,600-square-foot building. The building has separate rooms for a men’s and women’s section along with a baby room.
The store receives donations from local businesses and organizations that include diapers and bed sheets.
Eager said the goal of the store is to get other churches involved with the store.
“It’s not a Methodist thing,” Eager said. “Anybody can come volunteer. You don’t have to belong to a church.”
The community has already done its part with donations of garbage bags, paper towels and coffee.
Clients are treated to cookies and coffee when they arrive at the site and are encouraged to visit the store.
“The front door is open and the coffee is on.”
For more information, please contact Marie Baca at 864-8596.
Contact Brent Ruffner