Area residents who have been financially affected by job loss or income reduction due to the pandemic have been seeking assistance from local resources including the Free Store at the Beverly Area Planning Association (BAPA) Community Room, 11109 S. Longwood Dr.
Founded by Turpin Cares, 19th Ward Mutual Aid and BAPA, the Free Store provides essential hygiene and first-aid items for people in need.
Since opening at the end of May, the Free Store has served more than 750 families and given away nearly 16,000 items during the weekly Free Store hours.
“To put the Free Store numbers in perspective, Turpin Cares gave a total of 10,000 items to families in need in all of 2019,” said Greg Owen-Boger of Turpin Cares.
As the need for the Free Store continues, the resources for it are quickly being depleted.
Inventory for the Free Store is collected through Turpin Cares, either as donated items or as merchandise purchased through donations to the not-for-profit charitable organization.
“Sadly, our cupboards are emptying; the bank account is dwindling; and there is no end in sight for people’s need,” Owen-Boger said. “Toiletries are expensive, and unlike food pantries, there are no established supply chains for agencies to procure items.”
In response to the current situation, the Free Store team of volunteers made the difficult decision to cut back hours to the first and third Wednesdays of the month, from 4:30 to 6 p.m.; reduce the variety of items; and limit the number of items to 10 per household.
Masks donated by Nice Chicks with Sewing Machines are given to Free Store patrons who need them.
To help replenish stock, a Free Store drive-up donation collection will be held on Saturday, Oct. 10, from 10 a.m. to noon, in the BAPA parking lot, 111th Street and Longwood Drive.
To donate, enter from Longwood Drive behind the BAPA building, turn east and pull into the BAPA parking lot to drop off items, then exit onto 111th Street.
Masks will be required.
People can support the Free Store with monetary donations, checks made out to Turpin Cares or by donating items from the current inventory list.
Donations of these products are requested: bath soap (bars), shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, hand lotion, shaving cream, razors, tissues, tampons, sanitary pads, hand sanitizer, low-dose aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, antibiotic ointment, petroleum jelly, cough drops, adult diapers and antacid tablets.
People who want to support the Free Store but are unable to attend the drive-up collection can drop off donations at 9000 S. Hoyne Ave.
For more information or to make a monetary donation, visit the website at turpincares.org.