Christmas is often called the season for giving. In reality, that season goes all the way through winter.
Many people don’t have what they need to keep warm when temperature drops — a good coat, a pair of gloves, etc. The solution is a generous community — and next week, that’s what Pulaski County is looking for as it remembers the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
ABA Gives is part of a winter clothing drive that is ongoing next week. The recently-formed Lake Cumberland Diversity Council has organized several events in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day — which is this coming Monday, January 18 — and the clothing drive is one of them.
There are two locations set up for dropping things off — one is at the Over My Head homeless shelter, located at 150 Turner Street in Somerset, just off of the Cumberland Parkway (from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Friday) The other is at ABA Gives, located at 95 Ky. 2227 (not the downtown College Street ABA location), across from the former KIA dealership space.
“(JaKaye Garth of the Diversity Council) contacted me and said, ‘We’re starting a new group and we’re looking to be involved in other community outlets,’” said Tina George, who owns and operates the ABA Gives non-profit effort with her husband Chris. “They wanted us to collect things. I said, do you want to just collect things or do an actual giveaway and put your all’s name on it? So I believe that may be in the works at well. Right now, where we stand is that during (the coming) week, we’re going to collect (clothes) at ABA Gives.”
Normally, the store doesn’t have regular hours but opens by appointment. However, for the purposes of the MLK Day drive, they’ll be open noon to 3 p.m. on Monday, January 18 and Wednesday, January 20, and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, January 19, and Thursday, January 21.
“I appreciate them contacting us and wanting to involve us,” said George of the Diversity Council.
Being accepted are items like hats, coats, jackets, scarves, gloves, long-sleeved shirts, sweaters, and long pants.
“We’re looking for clothing — we can do blankets right now too,” said George. “That’s all we’re taking because we’re trying to clear out our other stuff.”
That includes baby gear, home decor, toys, books, and more.
ABA Gives takes a large number of items of all kinds throughout the year that they distribute to those in need. Right now, the space at Ky. 2227 is full — today (Thursday) they’re actually doing a “free yard sale,” as George put it, just to empty out the excess donations in the store, around 2 p.m.
Normally, ABA Gives works by referral. If someone is in need of something and maybe can’t afford it on their own, someone can make a referral on their behalf to ABA Gives, and as long as the charitable organization has it to provide, they will.
“(The referral can come from) a case worker, police officer, teacher, resource officer, pastor — I’ll even accept them from another person (not in the previous types of positions) if I know that person,” said George. She said that while furniture and those kinds of items require referrals, one doesn’t have to be recommended to get clothes, though George will get the sizes and go in and pick the items out herself.
ABA itself, owned by the George family, stands for “Applied Behavioral Advancements,” an office that works with individuals in need of mental and behavioral services. The idea for ABA Gives came about after Chris George watched a documentary on organizations that collect donations and distribute them to those in need. He saw an opportunity to improve on some current models and started collecting things in the ABA basement.
“(The amount of stuff) got really big, really quick,” said Tina George. “At that point, we wanted to find a way for people to get what they needed so we (made) connections and relationships with a lot of case workers.”
The effort has grown exponentially, said George, moving out of the ABA basement, and into a space on East Mt. Vernon Street, and finally into the current 10,000 square foot space two years ago, where they were able to have everything in one place.
To arrange to make donations or get clothes, contact ABA Gives over their Facebook page or at 606-219-4556.
George said that ABA Gives has “absolutely” been a blessing for the George family.
“So many people have been blessed by it, and that in turn blesses us and makes it all worth it,” she said.