As more donations poured in to a Columbia County nonprofit organization designed to shelter homeless women and their children, the idea for the Making Ends Meet Bargain Center in Martinez was born.
"I guess the reason I decided to do this was the generosity of the community and the truckloads of merchandise that people were giving us," said Pat Bourke,the executive director of Julie's House, a 10-room house in Columbia County that shelters abused women and children.
The bargain center opened Nov. 28 in Suite 2F of La Petite Plaza off Washington Road near CSRA Camperland, and is run by volunteers headed by Bourke.
On Thursday, the store will move nearby to a larger space in Suites 1D and 1E of La Petite Plaza. The new building is about 1,700 square feet, adding close to 700 square feet of room for displaying and storing donated items.
The store offers clothing, furniture, toys, baby products, household goods, jewelry and other merchandise. The business is open to the public, but customers in need can receive free items after filling out paperwork.
After the building's rent and utility bills are paid each month, all proceeds are donated to Julie's House.
Bourke said the bargain store provides a win-win situation for everyone involved. Individuals and businesses, she said, can make tax-deductible donations.
"It helps our community, because we offer merchandise to families at a very low cost," she said.
Another benefit, Bourke said, is that any profit made from the bargain center generates money to operate the day-to-day operations of Julie's House.
"We have a mortgage, and we have utility bills and garbage pickups," she said. "We have all the expenses that any household would have, so it generates income."
Bourke said she and other volunteers will pick up donations in Columbia and Richmond counties by appointment. Donations also can be dropped off during store hours.
The store is open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Thursday through Friday and from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturdays.
"I like working with the public, and I like working with these women" she said. "What is fulfilling is to see this community and all the volunteers that are coming forward to help me."
Julie's House receives most of its funding through donations.
To learn more about the Making Ends Meet Bargain Center, or to donate, call Julie's House at (706) 922-5018.
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