Care Store Builds Fuller Lives in Mount Pleasant
The coronavirus pandemic has not only upended the lives of many residents, it has also created turmoil for the nonprofits whose work helps those who need it most.
For the past three years, the Care Store at the Strickler Nonprofit Center in Mount Pleasant has helped create fuller homes and fuller lives for residents across Isabella County by providing household and personal items for clients referred to the program through 30 agencies, schools and churches across the region. However, the increase in need wrought by COVID-19 has stretched the limits of resources for the Care Store and other 501(c)(3) nonprofits.
“Under non-pandemic circumstances, we had 5,000 visits to the Care Store last year, which is between 2,500 and 3,000 families. Our current operations, just like everybody else, have been revised due to the pandemic,” founder and Executive Director Kim McBryde said, adding that the Care Store has gone from a retail location to a four-times-a-month drive-thru operation.
“We are currently serving over 800 families a month through the drive-thru, so we’ve nearly doubled the number of people coming through our drive-thru than what we served at this time last year,” she continued. “The pandemic has hit every nonprofit really hard in our area.”
The Care Store started as an outreach ministry of Mount Pleasant Community Church. The items offered through the Care Store — toilet paper, shampoo, laundry detergent, toothpaste — provide residents with essentials not covered by government assistance programs.
“For people who are struggling to make ends meet, it can really be a problem to get these basic essentials,” McBryde said. “Isabella County has a much higher poverty rate than people realize. When they think of Isabella County, they think of the university, but outside of the university area we are a very rural county. About 21-23% of people are struggling to make ends meet and another 20-21% of people are below the poverty line.”
Under normal circumstances, roughly 40% of resources handed out at the Care Store are collected through drop-off locations throughout the county. Since COVID-19, that has dropped to 1%, which makes the private monetary donations and grants the nonprofit relies upon so vital.
“We’ve had to purchase just about everything, and the only way we’ve been able to keep up at this time has been through grants. If it hadn’t been for grants and some of our donors, we wouldn’t have been able to keep up with the current need,” McBryde said. “Somehow we’ve been able to make it work. Making a financial contribution would be the best way to help us during this time. On our website and Facebook page, we have a secure donation link. People can make a one-time donation or if they want to set up a recurring donation. That would be incredibly helpful because our expenses are monthly, and we’ve been trying to find ways to develop our monthly donors.”