COLUMBIA — Its mission was supposed to be limited to aiding evacuees from Hurricane Katrina who moved to Boone County, but the Mid-Missouri Furniture Bank expanded its business to reach out to other families also in desperate need of furniture.
“It’s our helping heart that keeps us here,” said Bob McNear, executive director of the furniture bank.
Now the furniture bank itself is in need — of new warehouse space.
The furniture bank is currently located at 2810 Lemone Industrial Blvd., but it will have to move out of that donated space at the end of August when the building is sold.
McNear doesn’t know where the furniture bank will move, and he hopes that a place will be donated soon.
“If God wants us to continue with this, then God will provide us with a place to do it,” McNear said.
If no one donates space to the furniture bank by the end of August, McNear said he will rent storage space for the furniture or put it in people’s garages temporarily.
Mid-Missouri Furniture Bank helps families that are starting over through referrals from social service agencies, such as the Voluntary Action Center and the Salvation Army. McNear and his volunteer crew meet clients twice a week. Furniture and other housewares are donated to people who meet certain criteria, McNear said, including people with low incomes, people who have just relocated or left a domestic abuse situation, and those unable to find a job after moving to Boone County.
Kelly Hawkins, a 45-year-old volunteer, said she dedicates 20 to 25 hours per week to the bank.
“I do it because I don’t want to see children sleeping on the floor,” she said. “Growing up, we had a table to eat at and do our homework on. I think providing that for children is very important.”
Hawkins explained that after aiding Hurricane Katrina evacuees in 2005, people from Columbia started contacting the furniture bank for help with providing beds and other furniture for residents in need.
“We may not provide the fanciest homes, but at least the families won’t be sleeping or sitting on the floor,” McNear said.
Last year, McNear and eight other volunteers were able to help 94 families. In all, 97 percent of the bank’s furniture was given away, including 330 beds, 200 sofas, 200 chairs, 50 dining sets and 80 dressers.