Offering a Helping Hand: Couple provides ‘Free Shop’ in Saxe
SAXE – Since the pandemic began, families across Charlotte County have struggled with finding ways to put food on the table, maintain employment, and buy all the other essentials needed to get through day-to-day life. Amanda Brown Veasey and her husband once found themselves in just that situation and decided to help those who find themselves in similar circumstances. That’s where the idea for the Saxe Free Shop first got started.
Unemployed but Full of Hope
Dave Veasey found himself facing unemployment twice during the early days of the pandemic. Forced to move, the Veasey family settled into Saxe during July of 2022, and that’s where the idea for their free shop initiative began.
“A lot of the idea for the shop came from a neighbor, actually,” Dave said.
The neighbor knew the couple would need firewood for the approaching winter. To the couple’s surprise, the neighbor organized it so a huge dump truck full of wood came through and blessed them with more firewood than they knew what to do with.
Not needing all the firewood, Amanda and Dave started putting out social media posts, inviting people to come and take some for themselves. All total, 21 people visited the couple during this past winter, picking up firewood as needed. With that came the question of what else does the community need and how could Amanda and Dave help provide it.
“We noticed food stamps didn’t cover dish soap and other things people need to live,” Amanda said.
Free shop a light in the community
And so the couple started building partnerships, working with the local food bank and other groups to provide for the community’s needs free of charge. So far, they’ve collected and given away more than $5,000 worth of supplies at the free shop. That’s even more impressive when you consider it just happened over the last few months.
At the beginning of launching the initiative, Amanda said, things were slow. There were anywhere from 14-20 people per week who needed assistance. Now, there’s anywhere from 38-40 people per week visiting the free shop, with 24 people recorded on their busiest day.
The free shop has been able to help with baby items, kids’ toys, shoes, purses, women’s clothing and tools, along with food and other items. Amanda and Dave like to go to Amish auctions, such as those at Hollering Hill Auctions, and bid on cheap tools and box lots. With the help of a mechanic who fixes tools that might be broken, they are able to offer those as well.
“We do it out of our barn,” Amanda said. “It’s an old 1820’s-1890’s barn. It’s really nice. Under open air, we have tables set up underneath. We want to have a petting zoo soon. Now we have a community garden we’re getting started, so we can provide the community with fresh produce.”
Amanda and Dave say they’re excited for the community support they’ve received so far. As more people hear of their operation, more people want to get involved and support their mission.
The Veasey family utilize 100% of any monetary donations received to fund items for the shop. When the couple attends an auction, the donations they’ve received are used to purchase those items.
How you can help
If someone wants to get involved with the free shop, there are opportunities to do that.
“Volunteers would be great,” Amanda said. “I am hoping to find someone who wants to work with fundraising. We also need someone who is willing to come in and fold clothes.”
Additionally, the Veasey family is hoping for a trailer donation, to hook onto the back of their new truck to enable them to pick up larger items for donation purposes.
Additionally, work is underway to secure a 501 c(3) nonprofit status with the IRS.
“We are so glad to be here. We love it,” Amanda said. “We are free shop warriors now! We hope that people will feel inspired and passionate about this. I hope when people hear about us, people are left with inspiration to help others. Now the community is getting behind this, and I love that.”
For more information, you can contact the Veasey family directly at 434-454-0943, or visit them at 6395 Saxkey Rd, Saxe, VA 23967.