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Bargain hunters with charitable inclinations will look forward to June 15 as a day when their interests will be united. The fifteenth will see the opening of a Charity Thrift store located just west of the intersection of Towne Avenue and Foothill Boulevard whose proceeds will go entirely to KidCare International, a local organization with a history of activism both locally and abroad.

KidCare was founded in Claremont in 1991 by Larry and Janice Kapchinsky to provide assistance to “desperately disadvantaged children” and their families in nearby cities. KidCare operates a number of local programs whose aims include tutoring, mentoring and providing school supplies. The organization’s largest local project is a Montclair food bank that caters to hundreds of families each week.

“Children suffer the most,” Ms. Kapchinsky said, noting that many observers would be startled to learn of the amount of poverty in local counties, and that over 20,000 children can be identified as legally homeless in the Inland Empire alone.

“I’ve seen the same things here as I’ve seen working in Tanzania and Haiti,” Ms. Kapchinsky added.

The idea for the new Charity Thrift was born of a desire to found “a social enterprise company that exists to support the operations and programs of KidCare International.” The store became even more necessary after the recent economic downturn.

“Donations are down, but need is rising,” Ms. Kapchinsky said.

Ms. Kapchinsky’s earlier experiences as the owner of several antique stores made Charity Thrift a reasonable goal. She and her husband began moving towards the store’s creation a year ago, when KidCare started looking for a location to house the project. The exodus of Staples near CVS Pharmacy presented a long-awaited opportunity to get the store in business.

Charity Thrift will be an L3C organization, which, as far as taxation goes, can be understood as partway between a nonprofit organization and a private business. The Kapchinskys felt that running the store in such a fashion would provide a more holistic approach to its charitable aims.

“We feel that it’s important to give back to the community with taxes and to look at the overall scheme of things,” Ms. Kapchinsky explained. “It’s important for businesses to give back to the community, and to be a good part of that community.”

Ms. Kapchinsky hopes that Charity Thrift will provide funding for all of KidCare’s projects, while keeping true to the underlying ideology of the KidCare organization.

“Profit is a secondary goal,” Ms. Kapchinsky said, explaining that the store will eventually hire employees from a local women’s shelter and elsewhere who “deserve a second chance.”

At present, about 60 percent of KidCare’s proceeds go towards local projects like the food bank. The other 40 percent goes to international operations in Haiti and Tanzania, where KidCare helps to establish schools and to provide other support for children in need.

Last year, the food bank served 60,000 meals, an increase of about 20 percent from the previous year. “We’d eventually like to make the food bank even larger,” Ms. Kapchinsky said.

Even with the charity’s international scope, Ms. Kapchinsky emphasized that one of the Charity Thrift’s advantages as a source of funding is its direct impact on the surrounding community.

“It’s not a ‘distant’ charity. One can go down the street and see where their donation is going,” Ms. Kapchinsky said.

Lois Scott, who is volunteer helping get the store running until it earns enough revenue to hire employees, emphasized the importance of the new store to realizing KidCare’s larger goals.

“We’re really putting all of our efforts into this,” Ms. Scott said.

Irene Christman, who was volunteering with her daughter Jessica, agreed.

“We’ve been waiting for a location to happen. We really had to find another source of funding,” she said.

Ms. Kapchinsky noted that KidCare is always looking for volunteers, and is accepting donations of furniture, clothing, and household items at the store from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.. daily.

—Jake Bartman



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