SEARCY The Searcy Goodwill’s staff members look forward to rebuilding their store, thanks to some supportive restaurant customers in Arkansas.
A fire on March 22 destroyed the store and all of its donations, as well as leaving 15 employees unemployed until the store opened a temporary location on March 28 in a building that used to house a Puff’s Wearhouse Co. store.
“Chili’s in Searcy contacted us in early April,” said Rebecca Brockman, public relations and community engagement manager for Goodwill Industries of Arkansas.
“They asked what they could do to help rebuild the store.”
The Searcy Chili’s planned to hold a fundraiser for the Goodwill store, and the event was then extended across the state to Chili’s franchises. On June 26, the restaurant donated 10 percent of its proceeds from participating patrons to help build a new store.
Patrons were encouraged to go online and print out a flier to give to their waiter or waitress to say they were there to support the Searcy Goodwill.
Brockman said the event was promoted on social media and on the store’s website to encourage participation in the event.
The fundraiser brought in about $350 to go toward rebuilding the store, Brockman said.
“We’re in the planning process now, and that money will go toward the new Goodwill,” Brockman said. “The store is going to be larger, and we’re going to add a career center.”
Goodwill career centers provide services and education programs free to the community, the organization’s website states.
“We have 12 career centers located around the state, and we offer training and education at no cost,” Brockman said.
The new store will also feature a drive-thru service, at which people can pop the trunks on their cars, and volunteers will gather donations from the back of donors’ cars, Brockman said.
Brockman said Searcy has had a Goodwill store for more than 30 years.
“The community rallied at this fundraiser and has been very supportive at the [temporary] store,” Brockman said. “We’re committed to rebuild, and we’re in the planning process now.”
A time frame for the new store to open has not been established, but Brockman said the goal is to rebuild the store and make it better for the Searcy community.
Brockman said the plan is to rebuild the Searcy Goodwill Store in its previous location, 3707 E. Race St.
Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501)244-4307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.