More than a 1,000 Southern Adventist University students were set loose to volunteer with 30 nonprofits around the greater Chattanooga area on MLK Day, and the Street Store at the Salvation Army of Chattanooga was one of those service locations.
A Street Stores is a sidewalk pop-up shop that furnishes homeless individuals with free clothing while providing them with a “dignified shopping experience,” university faculty said. This is the second year that the school has used the Street Store, a movement beginning in South Africa, as a means to serve the underserved, officials said.
Carolita Claus, a Southern Adventist junior and community service coordinator, was in charge of gathering the clothes and bringing volunteers to the event. She said the Street Store has been a worthwhile experience for everyone involved—herself, other students and those it directly benefits.
“It has been a really fun event to help with,” Claus said. “It’s just really cool to see people getting the same treatment that we would shopping, getting sizes that fit and clothing that is correct for them; and that’s what we really wanted to give our community.”
Lt. Ken Griffey Jr., Salvation Army officer, said about 500 local homeless people could be served with clothes gathered by the Southern Adventist students.
He said the Salvation Army was glad to be partnering with the school again and that he was proud of the work being done for those in need locally.
Many of today’s shoppers said they were thankful for the much-needed clothing to combat cold weather conditions.
Harvey, 50, said he picked up socks and pants from the Street Store.
“It’s a blessing from God,” Harvey said. “He just sent these people here to bless me. I’m a person been down on my luck for about month and a half, and he put these folks right in my path.”
Edna, 51, said she was excited to wear her new sweaters and the “decent pair of shoes” she got today.
“It really means a lot, and [it will] help me to stay warm,” she said.