At 803 North Lamar Street in Abbeville, you'll find The Free Store, and the name succinctly explains just how the shop operates:
Folks in need come by, they walk it, they look for essential items and they pick up things.... for free.
"Do they have to be unemployed? Do they have to show you a tax return that says they only make two-dollars a year? Who can come by?" I ask Free Store founder Sabien Brown.
"I mean if they need it, they're welcome to come," smiles Brown. "I don't really scrutinize it because if I make it too bureaucratic, I might exclude people who really need it and can't get through the process."
Sabien Brown opened the Free Store only two months ago, and items available focus on the everyday basics-- soap, clothes, toys, formula-- good stuff.
Now here's the bad: sometime over the weekend, at this difference-making place, someone smashed a window and broke in.
"So, I go inside and i look around and it's trashed, things are kicked around, things are broken, they even threw the trash all over the floor," recalls Brown, who saw the damage just as he returned from a shopping trip to Lafayette. "He stole the jewelry display thing we had right here, he stole the air conditioner, and he stole the ice chest we kept all the tools in."
He's been cleaning and straightening, and his two-day-a-week philanthropic enterprise will reopen this Friday afternoon. Amazingly, Sabien Brown is taking it all in stride, with a maturity that belies his age. "I'm 21, ('How old?') 21. (What?) . I'm 21 years old," he laughs.
To help with repairs and replacing items, a volunteer established a GoFundMe page ('Save the Free Store') that has already raised over $1,200.
"It's going great, way better than I expected," adds Sabien, whose goal was $1,000. "It's definitely going to help us get security cameras and an alarm system, and a new window. It'll make the Free Store a lot better."
Sabien Brown never filed a police report about the robbery, but you've got to love what he said about the robber. "Maybe he felt like he needed the stuff more than everyone else, but I wish he would have asked."
The Free Store is located at 803 North Lamar Street in Abbeville and is open Tuesday and Friday afternoons.
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