Hearts for the Homeless Celebrates 30 Years
By Amanda Dudek
At some point, you have probably dropped gently used clothing into one of those little red donation bins found across Western New York and reaching nearly to Syracuse. Perhaps like me, you are simply glad your clothing, shoes, and blankets are going to good use, but do you know where your donated items are going? You might be surprised!
The red donation boxes, over 400 of them, all belong to Hearts for the Homeless (Hearts), a nonprofit organization Tonawanda Street in Buffalo. Hearts stated mission is to be a mobile soup kitchen that feeds the poor and homeless on the street, characterized by a profound spiritual motivation. In doing so, Hearts offers nourishing food, as well as winter clothing, pertinent information regarding area services, companionship, and hope for the future.
Hearts was founded in 1990 on Christmas Eve as an outreach and feeding program, including a motor home which was the beginnings of its Mobile Soup Kitchen outreach. The ministry grew quickly, adding its reading program in 1991 and its first thrift store in 1996. Ultimately, Hearts would open two more thrift stores before merging them all into a larger one, Hearts Thrift Shop, in 1999 at its present location.
Hearts Thrift Shop serves a dual purpose. Not only does it provide the community with gently used, quality clothing along with personal care items, toiletries, jewelry, toys, housewares, games, and free books, but also, after expenses, it uses all proceeds from Hearts Thrift Shop to support the operation of its Mobile Soup Kitchen and Hearts Harvest Pantry and Café. This is one of the primary ways that Hearts for the Homeless is able to fund its outreach.