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Raleigh’s Place opening new thrift store

By J.R. TIDWELL / Editor

It has been a two-year journey for nonprofit Raleigh’s Place in its attempt to find a new location to open up a thrift store in Chilton County.

Now, Raleigh’s Place will be calling the former Chilton Medical Center on Lay Dam Road in Clanton home.

The nonprofit will have a grand opening “all day” on May 1-2. Given the current social distancing guidelines brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, Executive Director Sharron King said the hope is for people to filter in throughout the day, as large groups cannot currently form. An actual ribbon cutting is planned for a later date.

“God ended up providing us a building in November,” King said.

According to the organization’s website, Raleigh’s Place is a “Christ-centered foster care ministry. Raleigh’s Place offers several ministries to assist foster children and foster families.”

Among the myriad of services offered to foster children is a summer camp, Camp 1:27, and Katie’s Closet, which provides essential items and clothing to foster children of all ages.

King said Raleigh’s Place had a 24’x30’ metal building that housed clothes and items for the foster kids, but they needed something bigger. The new space is 6,000 square feet.

“It was hard to keep the amount of clothes and different sizes we need for our foster kids, who could be anywhere from infants to teenagers,” she said. “It became impossible to keep all the different sizes.”

Kind also said people have been donating other items to Raleigh’s Place than essentials and clothes, like furniture and household appliances.

Adding in a thrift store will allow the nonprofit to sell these items to help fund the services it provides.

“We need a regular flow of income, which the thrift store will provide for our foster children,” King said. “We need more funds for other parts of the ministry. Our goal is for kids to be cared for from time they come in until they are adopted or independent.”

King said sometimes teenagers who are aging out of the program are not quite ready to live on their own just yet, so Raleigh’s Place is looking to add a transitional housing program to its services.

Being a former hospital, the building has a section at the back of the campus that King said formerly housed a maternity and later psychiatric ward.

Raleigh’s Place aims to convert that space into apartments for the transitional program, which the thrift store will help fund.

“This fall we will start repairing that wing, then that will be transitional living apartments,” she said. “We will have a training center for that program. Former foster kids age 18-23 that can live there.”

King said the new thrift store will have two rooms filled with items that are only for kids in the foster care program. The rest of items will be open for sale to the general public.

The thrift store will be open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. King said those times may be adjusted in the future if Raleigh’s Place deems it necessary.

Since the new space is a former hospital, different types of items can be organized in different rooms out in the open.

“You can see everything (when you walk in),” King said.