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Photo by Isaac Harrell
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A restored antique wooden icebox, china sets, an Arts and Crafts dresser and a retro, red plastic dinette set are all décor items you'd expect to find at a carefully curated estate sale. But these pieces of furniture and tchotchkes are part of CARITAS Furniture Bank's yard sale.
CARITAS, a nonprofit organization that helps almost 800 homeless families find housing each year, hosts a monthly yard sale with décor at modest prices to support its mission. In its 25th year, the nonprofit helps families in need through shelter services, employment programs and recovery programs for addicts and alcoholics. It also maintains a furniture bank, which it started four years ago to supply families with essential furnishings to help them get back on their feet. Through its yard sales, CARITAS sells surplus furniture and accessories to raise money and to keep the organization afloat.
"The people who are coming [to us] are really in crisis mode and just really need the essentials," says Hunter Moum, program manager of CARITAS Furniture Bank. "They want to get their kids above the floor. They want to eat at a table. They need a sofa."
Yard sale shoppers are families who have been through CARITAS' programs as well as other people in the community looking for a thrift store score. "The decorative items — the frou frou — is stuff our clients aren't interested in when in crisis mode," says Moum, "but then later down the road, this is the icing on the cake when they get stable and come back."
The furniture bank depends on donations from individuals, furniture stores and other organizations. "We get a lot of inventory from many universities, from hotels that are renovating," says Moum. Last year, the Ramada hotel donated 370 rooms of furniture to CARITAS, which kept the furniture bank afloat for about six months. "We are always in desperate need," Moum says.
To learn more about CARITAS and how you can help, visit caritasshelter.org/furniture.html