The Free Store is Back in Business

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In its second year, The Free Store in Lee's Summit will give needy families everything from clothes and shoes to towels and blankets and it does it all, free of charge.

Raven Thornheart knows what it's like to go without. Her family lost their home a few years ago, after her son Reno, then 16, was hospitalized when his spine collapsed.

"A lot of the time, my husband and I would go without eating to make sure our kids had enough to eat," said Thornheart.  "Unfortunately, that's becoming more common for families who just don't have the stretch in their budget ."

That's why she's running the Free Store this year. Families in need can come twice a week, get a bag and fill it to the brim with what they need.

"They're a paycheck away from disaster," said Thornheart. "They're an illness away from disaster. An emergency room copay of $150 is half the months food budget. It can snowball into bankruptcy. So, if we can make this season, the hardest part of the year, easier for families, then why shouldn't we?"

The problem, Thornheart said, is they don't have a lot to give. Due to the increase in need, the Free Store won't make it to its second day of business if donations don't start coming in.

"The joke started as we need tea cups to pick up trucks," said Thornheart. "If you have no need for it, we can find a family that does."

A family like Gayle Rutherford's. On this day, Rutherford was looking for a coat for her five-year-old grandson.

"Go clean out your old, make room for your new and bring it to a store like this because they're great about helping," she said.

The Free Store will be open Tuesday through Saturday from Dec. through Jan. 31.  The store is located at 702 SE Blue Parkway in Lee's Summit inside the former Wild Child store.  The store is in need of donations, including clothes, shoes, jackets and blankets.

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