KANKAKEE — Nearly five years ago, the Salvation Army Corps in Kankakee opened a family store and donation center in Bradley.
The idea was to provide second-hand items at affordable prices as a way to raise funds for numerous programs offered to those in need.
For the past 18 months, the current leaders, Lts. Scott and Makayla Parnell, crunched numbers in an effort to make the store profitable.
Scott Parnell said they tried cost-saving measures including lower utility bills. Discarding items left after hours that were damaged in inclement weather proved expensive.
The effort to make the store viable came to an end with the announcement via Facebook on Feb. 4 that the store located in the 1300 block of Locke Drive would close May 1.
The last day for donations to be dropped off is March 14.
“We couldn’t justify putting money needed to fund our programs into the store anymore,” Scott Parnell said.
Those programs include sheltering services, feeding programs and financial assistance.
These programs are provided at the Salvation Army’s main facility located in the 100 block of North Harrison Avenue in Kankakee.
“This was not a quick decision. We have a [store] staff and several have been here since the store opened,” Parnell said. “The decision to announce the May closing was to allow employees time to secure other employment.”
Parnell said there are 14 employees, most part time.
The building and property will be sold and the proceeds will go toward funding programs.
“Mission No. 1 is stewardship. The money goes to those in need,” Parnell said. “The community has been good in supporting the organization. They trust us to give those in need help. The story with non-profits is doing more with less.
“The Corps poured a lot of resources into the store. The original plan was for the store to fund programs, not the other way.”
The major fundraiser for the organization is the annual Red Kettle drive during the Christmas holiday season.
Parnell said they have reached 99 percent of their $219,000 goal. The final numbers will be known next week.
The 2018 campaign goal of $225,000 came up $30,000 short. Parnell said that makes a significant difference in the budget.
It was in March 2015 the Salvation Army purchased the former location of Aldis, which opened a new store at Illinois Route 50 and St. George Road.