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Vancouver nonprofit that has supported families for over 2 decades at risk of closing after losing funding

For over 23 years, The Giving Closet has served as a free community store for those in need. It's now at risk of closing after losing three major financial donors.

VANCOUVER, Wash. — A Vancouver non-profit that has been helping financially-strapped families for nearly a quarter of a century is not facing its own major financial crisis. 

For over 23 years, The Giving Closet has served as a free community store for those in need. It's in an industrial warehouse space at 2805 NE 65th Avenue off 4th Plain Blvd filled with donated items families need. 

Vancouver native Denise Curry started the charity organization 23 years ago in a much smaller space. It has grown into a 9000 square foot center with some paid staff members and a lot of volunteers making it happen. 

Curry says the irony is: it costs money to offer things up for free. There's rent, insurance and bills to keep the space running, like electricity, water and gas. 

 “I’ve got some wonderful staff. We, none of us, make the big dollars but we're happy to do what we're doing,” said Curry. 

Friday is donation day when clothing, shoes, kid's games and smaller household items are dropped off by donors, like Kathie Fitzgerald, who'd just heard The Giving Closet is now struggling financially. 

“It's a great organization and I hope they can find funding and continue to exist,” said Fitgerald. 

In the past four months, three major donors that had been covering the vast majority of a quarter-million-dollar annual operating budget have ended their assistance, two with little notice.

Curry said it's not because of anything The Giving Closet has done, and she thanked those donors for their support over the years. But to lose them all at once put the organization at risk.

“It's a large amount of money," Curry said. "We can get some of it, but it's a big hill to climb. So we're asking for help us get by, so that we can get out, make new plans, and find new places that will help us." 

Credit: Tim Gordon, KGW

Because what happens here isn't all about what's hanging on the racks.

"So many people are in need right now," said volunteer David Dick. "We see it everywhere. You don't have to look twice to see those needs that are out there and it's wonderful to feel like you could make a difference." 

Curry added, "It's a community that has been built here that people float through and find something... so, it can't stop, it just can't; there's too many people that need love and hope and acceptance and to realize they matter."

Curry and her team are working to encourage some new large donors, but in the meantime, smaller financial donations are important to help keep them afloat. They ask those who can to consider donating to their organization.   

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