RCS Thrift Store Seeks Funds for Expansion
by Sandi Fahy
Photo by SANDI FAHY
LARGO - The back room where staff and volunteers sort donations to the Religious Community Services Thrift Shop at 2960 East Bay Dr. is much too crowded these days. There are times when one corner of the room is filled with cardboard box upon cardboard box and bag upon bag of donated merchandise deemed unsuitable for sale. This merchandise is picked up by a recycling company three times a week. Recycled items generated some $11,000 for RCS programs last year, according to store director Linda Sofarelli.
Sofarelli has started a campaign to raise funds for an extension to their current facility and is appealing to the public for help. Religious Community Services, a registered 501 (c) (3) organization, has lost revenue to support its programs due to the passing of Amendment 1 and cannot allocate funds for the store's expansion, she explained on a recent morning. "We desperately need more space to accept donations, sort items and store items to be recycled," Sofarelli said. "More room would also prevent 'turn away' of gifts."
The Thrift Store is one of four RCS programs working together to provide basic needs to people throughout Pinellas County. It offers substantial savings to the public and provides clothing, shoes, household goods and furniture at no charge to participants in any of the RCS programs, which include RCS Grace House (which provides eight weeks of apartment style shelter to homeless families), The Haven (which offers shelter, legal advocacy, 911 phones and more to victims of domestic violence) and RCS Food Bank (which serves between 4,000 and 5,000 needy individuals monthly at their warehouse and 62 sub-sites). RCS has been providing help to people in need for the past 40 years.
Monies from sales at the thrift store help support the above mentioned programs. The new addition planned will accommodate more donations, resulting in increased sales. Persons who would like to help by donating funds for the extension project should call Sofarelli at 531-6266. Sofarelli would also like to hear from persons interested in serving as volunteers. Duties include sorting donations, washing and ironing, displaying merchandise, helping customers and assisting RCS program participants with their selection of merchandise. .
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