Local nonprofit Give Kids Hope Inc. is bringing a thrift store to Port Jefferson’s uptown.
Filling the vacant spot where Sue La La Couture previously was, the Give Kids Hope thrift store is a new endeavor that founder Melissa Paulson said will bring more resources to people struggling within the community.
“Our previous location was very small,” she said. “This now gives us more flexibility with having programs for families or other free events.”
Now located at 1506 Main St., the front of the store will be a shop where people can find housewares, antiques, furniture and other trinkets. By selling items like these, Paulson said it will help keep the nonprofit’s overhead going, as well as provide funds for the food pantry in the back of the store.
But that doesn’t stop the original mentality behind her organization.
“Items like clothing, toys, shoes, essentials and pantry are always free to families in need,” she said.
Give Kids Hope Inc. is a 501(c)(3) that Paulson started nearly a decade ago after her daughter was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma at just 18 months old. It was during this time that Paulson decided she wanted to devote her free time to charity.
“I knew I wanted to do something to help other families in similar situations,” she previously told TBR News Media.
That’s when Give Kids Hope was born. Paulson created the nonprofit to help children and their families battling cancer, and as the years went on Paulson began seeing how many other people were in need around her.
“There are so many less fortunate people in the community,” she said. “I never realized how many Long Islanders are struggling just to put food on their tables and a roof over their heads.”
She began gathering supplies she knew people would need, especially around the holidays, to donate to shelters, housing units and food pantries — and she was doing it out of her home for many of those years.
Last year, she opened up her first brick-and-mortar location in Port Jefferson Station at 4390 Nesconset Highway. When that lease was up this summer, she said, she decided to move closer to the village where foot traffic and parking are better.
Right next to the thrift store is a parking lot with plenty of spaces, which Paulson said will help bring people in to browse.
“It will drive people here and allow them to shop, that way we can help more families in the area,” she said.
Paulson said that because items in the thrift shop will be donated, the inventory will constantly change.
“Everything that we’re collecting and selling ranges from antiques, collectibles, home decor — all the nonessential items that people don’t need, but more so want,” she said. “We have seasonal decor, vintage jewelry … we’re hoping to get more people to donate a variety of different things.”
She added that items will also be available for purchase on Facebook and easy pickup.
Paulson, a Port Jefferson resident, said that although the previous location was good for the time, she hopes that the larger space will allow her and her volunteers to host different events that will benefit locals — especially children.
“If the funding comes in, we’ll be more than happy to offer additional programs,” she said. “But as always, the pantry is a given and then our free ‘shopping’ events.”
Give Kids Hope has several events throughout the year where people in need can come to the location and browse and “shop” for things, like back-to-school supplies or holiday gifts. All the items are free.
She added that the nonprofit is looking for volunteers and grant writers.
“The key thing is to keep our doors open, so if anybody has items to donate, we encourage them to get involved,” she said. “I encourage people to come down and get to know us, to see who we serve and also be a part of making the change. It’s a really wonderful thing and I’m so happy to be a part of it.”
Paulson said that if anyone or a family are struggling in the local community to reach out to Give Kids Hope.
The thrift store is currently open Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Hours may change and donations are accepted at the store during these times.