Written by Jennifer Webb
Have you ever had to clean out a house and wished that someone could just take some of the household items away and give them to someone that really needs them?
Maybe your kids outgrew that bunkbed that you got for them, or you just got a new table and need to get rid of your old one. Or maybe you have to clean out a house after a loved one has passed (never an easy task!) and feel like you have household items and furniture running out of your ears. What if you have to move and you have items that you really don’t want to take with you? There is a ministry in Searcy called The Storehouse that takes those household items, and furniture and gives it directly to a family that needs them. Your old household items could literally be the blessing that someone else is praying for.
So what exactly is The Storehouse?
The Storehouse’s story really starts with another organization called 100 Families. Their goal is to keep families together that are struggling throughout all of White County. A family might be struggling with housing, job loss, drug or alcohol dependence, finding childcare so that they can work, finding reliable transportation, or a whole host of other issues. If a family has no extended family, friends, or church family to lean on, who can they turn to to help? They turn to 100 Families.
When a family that is struggling comes to 100 Families they are assigned a caseworker whose job it is to pool resources to help them get their lives back together. This can include things like helping with housing, food, transportation, jobs, education, medical needs, and more.
All this coordination involves many people and many organizations. Some are government programs such as SNAP, while others are privately run charities and faith-based organizations. The other organizations that 100 Families uses are called “partner agencies.” The Storehouse is one of those partner agencies.
After talking with Dana Baker, of 100 Families, and her husband Shayne Baker, now of Restore Hope Arkansas, Holly Wilkins felt that God was calling her to serve. There were other organizations that were offering assistance with things like clothing, housing, and food, but none were dedicated to helping with home furnishings after a struggling family had secured housing. That’s how The Storehouse came to be in 2021.
Full of enthusiasm and armed with a notebook, Holly started the organization as a loosely run group of volunteers. Its mission is to share the love of Christ by providing 100 Families active clients with home furnishings. One of the local churches donated facilities for storage. They started collecting donations. The donations come from private individuals as well as corporations and churches.
Julie Stratton moved to Searcy in 2020 and had been looking for ways to serve the community, make friends, and get involved. She came on with The Storehouse in July 2021. She and Holly work as a team. Before Julie came, Holly was basically running the organization herself, including transporting large items with the help of her husband and other volunteers. She was more focused on immediate needs. But Julie had a more long-term vision. Julie took Holly’s notebook of people’s names, addresses, and requested items and made excel spreadsheets to keep better track of what donations came in, what was needed, and how many people they had served.
When a family is trying to get back on their feet, one of the first things that they have to do is secure housing. But housing usually comes empty. It‘s hard to make the house a home or for it to function when it’s empty. How can a person cook if they don’t have pots or pans? How can you curl up on the couch if all you have is a bare floor? How do you get your kids back from foster care if you don’t have a bed for them to sleep on? And how do you get these items if all your money has just gone for a deposit on the apartment or trailer?
The Storehouse takes donations both from individuals and businesses. They range from linens, small and large appliances, kitchen items, furniture, mattresses, baby items such as playpens, swings, highchairs, strollers, and car seats, ac units, heaters, fans, hygiene products, cleaning supplies, tools for home repair, and other items needed to make a house a home. The Storehouse takes these generous donations and gives them to people that need them and are working to improve their lives.
To date, they have helped approximately 150+ families that live here in White County. If you or your church would like to help or would like Holly or Julie to speak, please email email@example.com. If you would like to learn more about 100 Families visit www.restorehopear.org/100families or call (501) 380-0715.