Fostering Hope, the nonprofit started more than 12 years ago to help children in foster care, has moved to a former furniture store in downtown Conway to serve its expanded, regional clientele and operate a much larger thrift shop.
The building at 308 Elm St. was the Dixie Furniture Store and will be renamed The Stein Building, in honor of Al and Etta Stein, who have been volunteers for Fostering Hope founder Tabby Shelton since she started the nonprofit in 2004.
“We love doing it,” Etta Stein said as she showed the several departments of clothing, shoes and so forth.
Al Stein is president of the Fostering Hope board of directors.
The layout is much like a department store, organized by girls and boys sizes, premature infants to size 6, for example, and sizes 7 to 16, then teens.
“We do as much as we can to make it bright and welcoming,” Etta Stein said.
Children, referred by social caseworkers or school counselors, come to Fostering Hope by appointment and shop for apparel just as they would in a retail store. Beyond the array of clothing, there are sections of quilts and pillowcases, stuffed animals, toys and books. The library is dedicated to Bill Thompson, previous owner of the building.
“He was just wonderful,” Shelton said.
For the past five years, Fostering Hope was in a former retail store at 909 Fourth Ave. The move to Elm Street was a year in the works. Volunteers from several churches removed carpeting from the furniture store and painted the floor, updated bathrooms, and built walls to separate the children’s shopping area from the thrift shop.
“We’re purchasing the building, so we have a mortgage instead of rent,” Shelton said. “We would love to see the building paid off in five years.”
The balance on the building is $236,000.
The widespread community support Fostering Hope has received suggests the mortgage balance could be paid in a few years. For the past several months, the nonprofit has had mortgage and rent payments. Shelton estimates the annual operating budget will be about $75,000. Prior to the new location, it’s been about $65,000.
The hope is that thrift shop revenue eventually will cover utilities and other operating costs. Fostering Hope operates with a dedicated base of two dozen or more volunteers, such as the Steins, who sort and stock donated and new material. Volunteers are needed in some areas.
“We started serving children in foster care,” Shelton said. “As we’ve grown, we’ve reached out to other children,” including those who are victims of house fires or perhaps have long-term medical needs. All clients are referred by caseworkers, American Red Cross volunteers, school counselors or medical caregivers.
Shelton continues to be appreciative and somewhat amazed by the community support.
“I’ve been in line at the checkout, I’ll have a buggy full of shoes. ... On more than one occasion, I’ve had someone in the line pay for whatever is in the cart,” she said.
Fostering Hope, 308 Elm St., Conway, needs socks and underwear, which must be new, in many sizes for boys and girls. The underwear sizes include girls and boys 2 - 6; girls sizes 4, 9, 10; boys 8, 12, 14, 16 and teen boy 32, 34, 3X. Socks are needed in kids sizes for boys and girls and teen girl sizes 4-10.
The nonprofit can always use all sizes of shoes, but especially needs little boys sizes 1, 2, 8, 9, 11, 13 and teen boys sizes 7, 9; little girls sizes 7, 8, 10 and teen girls 9, 10. Fostering Hope tries to give all children a new paid of sneakers, and welcomes donations of gently used shoes.
Volunteers are needed to help sort incoming donations, assist donors and assist in the thrift store. Especially needed are volunteers to sort and stock toys, and to organize school supply drives, stuff backpacks and organize school supplies.
Retail Hours | 9 a.m. - 12 noon, Monday - Thursday / Saturday
Mail | Fostering Hope, 308 Elm St., Conway, SC 29526
Phone | 843-488-3593
email | firstname.lastname@example.org
Online | www.fosteringhopeinc.com