Surprise Sam’s Club donation makes dreams possible at Family Shelter


During a special event to celebrate the grand re-opening of Sam’s Club in Warwick last week, the Rhode Island Family Shelter was the recipient of a generous, unsolicited donation from the company of $20,000, one of the largest donations in the organization’s history.

“I was shocked,” said Patti Macreading, executive director of RI Family Shelter.

She explained that individuals from Sam’s Club reached out almost four months ago when they were preparing for the opening of their Warwick location. “They wanted to connect with the local community,” said Macreading, explaining that the Sam’s Club representative found RI Family Shelter by “Google-ing” them.

The Sam’s Club manager and another representative visited the RI Family Shelter, and Macreading explained that one of her grant writers was working with Sam’s Club to see if it would be possible to get a $5,000 grant from the company.

So when they called to invite Macreading to the soft opening on Wednesday Jan. 22 for a “surprise,” Macreading thought their efforts had paid off. At the event, Sam’s Club donated $30,000 to a number of local organizations.

“Everyone getting up there was getting $1,000, then $2,000,” said Macreading. “I was thinking maybe $5,000, maybe $6,000.”

When she was called up and it was announced that RI Family Shelter would be awarded $20,000, Macreading was shocked.

“It was so unexpected but so needed,” said Macreading. “We’re one of the smaller organizations that is not normally recognized, and I think he recognized that.”

Previously, RI Family Shelter did receive a $25,000 grant from Wal-Mart, which owns Sam’s Club, but this was one of the largest unsolicited donations that Macreading could think of in recent years.

Macreading already knows what the $20,000 will be used for; a three-bedroom apartment in their facility is in need of renovation, and they hope to create a donation space within their facility to store clothing and other items.

“This was exactly what was needed,” said Macreading.

She went on to explain that a family moved out of one of the shelter’s seven permanent, supportive apartments, and it is in need of work, including a new kitchen, cabinets, new rugs and more. The request for work will need to go to bid, and Macreading estimated the cost would be between $15,000 and $16,000. But the work is needed.

“It is the only three-bedroom we have,” said Macreading. “Most of the families we have are big.”

Macreading explained that a donation room is needed to store the many items donated by generous individuals and given to those families leaving RI Family Shelter, striking out on their own for a fresh start. Items in the donation room include clothing, household goods, dishes, school supplies, cleaning supplies and more.

“People want to donate, but we just don’t have any place to put it,” explained Macreading. “People are so generous but we just don’t have the storage and we have to say no.”

Originally, Macreading and her staff hoped to turn a bedroom into the donation room, but ultimately decided to transform an old boardroom instead. The staff had been looking into what supplies they might need, and, ironically, the shelving units they were looking for the space at are sold at Sam’s Club.

Macreading is hopeful that with the $20,000 and some additional federal funding provided to the shelter to rehab their apartments and thrifty spending, both projects will be completed by March.


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