When Ahwatukee Foothills resident Tami Jackson started collecting furniture for families transitioning out of homelessness she imagined the small band of volunteers she was working with would be able to help one or two families each month. After one year Furniture Bank has helped 50 families and Jackson said the need is still great.
“I cannot believe the year we’ve had with Furniture Bank,” she said. “When I counted it, that’s almost one a week. It’s hard to even comprehend that that many families went through Furniture Bank, but how cool is that?”
Furniture Bank was started out of a Homeless Advocacy Team formed by local nonprofit Connecting to Serve. The group realized, in working with local shelters and families getting back on their feet, that once the families found a new home they often had nothing to put in it. Jackson found some storage and began collecting furniture for the families. She works with local shelters to identify families transitioning from homelessness into a home. Those families can receive furniture for free.
Over the past year Furniture Bank has gotten calls for help from more than a dozen local charities looking for furniture.
“It’s awesome that I have all these relationships, but on the other hand where are all the other organizations giving furniture?” Jackson said. “We’re the only ones out there. But, we’ve had so many donations we’ve been able to keep up with the need at this point.”
Jackson said every time their 10-foot-by-30-foot storage unit fills up, it’s cleared out and filled up again just as quick. Jackson said Furniture Bank has only had a waiting list one time, with four families on it, but each got furniture within a month.
It costs about $150 to help each family. The cost is mostly attributed to storage, but occasionally Furniture Bank must pay a moving company to transport the furniture.
Recently, the group filed paperwork to become a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Because of the cost associated with that licensing the group is in desperate need of donations to help cover storage costs for this year.
“Because of how much this has grown it’s got to be a community affair,” Jackson said. “There are so many resources out here, I think it can happen, but it’s just about me learning what those resources are.”
For now the group is planning a yard sale to help cover costs. Donations of items to sell at the yard sale can be dropped off at Jackson’s home, 4154 E. Silverwood Drive. The yard sale will take place Saturday, Feb. 1 from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the same address.
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