You may have heard of me


Just joking. I was stoked to be mentioned in the Columbus Dispatch recently for a project at work. We’ve been working hard to spread the word that we’ve rebuilt our warehouse after a fire last year and are asking the community for donations. I wanted to share this Dispatch article where I’m quoted. My title is wrong, but no worries. You get the gist.

Volunteers of America seeks donations to refill rebuilt warehouse

A Volunteers of America warehouse in Columbus that was destroyed in an arson fire has been rebuilt. Now, the nonprofit organization says, it needs help from the public to fill the massive building on the Far West Side.

“Insurance did not cover the donations,” said Debbie Gillum, a spokeswoman for Volunteers of America of Greater Ohio.

More than 225,000 pounds of clothing and household items destined for one of the agency’s thrift stores or a recycler were lost in the January 2017 blaze. In addition to the more than $700,000 worth of donations, the fire behind the thrift store on West Broad Street also ruined three large trucks and a forklift.

Even after insurance reimbursement, Volunteers of America said it lost more than $1 million in revenue.

Getting the warehouse back to capacity is especially challenging because donations have been down overall. Gillum said Volunteers of America trucks are now picking up donations in more areas throughout central Ohio, including the University District.

“We’ve added some new routes, and six cities,” she said.

The agency wants students to know they can donate unwanted household items instead of tossing them when moving in or out of campus-area housing.

Shoes and clothing — men’s pants and shirts are in short supply — are needed most, Gillum said.

 The warehouse serves as the hub for all six Volunteers of America thrift stores in central Ohio.

Donations deemed unsuitable for sale or that aren’t bought in the stores wind up in one of the warehouse baling machines, which can compress more than a thousand pounds of clothing into one tidy cube. The cubes typically are sold overseas.

Dennis Kresak, president and CEO of Volunteers of America of Greater Ohio, said community donations help homeless families, veterans and others who receive support through the agency’s housing, health care and other human-service programs.

The man who investigators say set the warehouse fire and others since 2012 pleaded guilty this month to multiple felony counts of aggravated arson. Aaron Callicoat, 32, of Prairie Township, could face from three to 32 years in prison when he is sentenced, possibly this week.

Warren Edwards, an assistant Franklin County prosecutor, has said that Callicoat had been living out of a nearby storage locker and was known to report suspicious fires. He called 911 twice about the Volunteers of America fire and was seen observing the aftermath.

Callicoat seemed to enjoy “watching things burn,” Edwards said.

For information about Volunteers of America of Greater Ohio or to donate, go to www.voago.org or call 614-253-6100.

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