Proceeds from Durbin Avenue East shop go to help local veterans
BELLVILLE – Thoughts about the hundreds who have served in the U.S. military have been occupying the mind of Tami Oyster for years.
She decided to show that concern in January, and opened Love our Hero’s in a small shop on Durbin Avenue East.
Oyster said she had worked for a non-profit group, and decided she could set up here own 501c3 entity.
She said she had $690 saved. So she found the spot on Durbin, paid $600 for rent, and moved items she had stored in her house to the building.
The Love our Hero’s effort operates on a donation system.
Everything in the shop is donated. And people who want something can get it by making a donation. There are no set prices on items in the store.
People can find children’s toys, suitcases, linens, furniture, tools, pictures and memorabilia items.
Oyster said all the items she donated to the effort have found new homes.
Now, others are making donations.
The money brought in goes first to pay that necessary thing – overhead for operations.
Then, money goes to veterans in need.
Oyster said one man found out about Love our Hero’s on Facebook. He had no food, nothing for his dog and his car was going to be repossessed, she said.
Her shop made the man’s car payment, bought groceries and dog food.
Another person needed a car repaired, and Love our Hero’s provided $450.
Kirstie White, who works with Oyster as a volunteer, said “that’s just who she is.”
People are welcome to visit the store, make themselves comfortable, get coffee or buy pop.
The cash register area is located on a showcase, displaying jewelry. An old door serves as the top of the display case.
Only two items in the store have a price on them. One of them is a large model car. The other is a piece of furniture.
Appealing items include magazines, some about common things like farm implements.
There are Elvis items, dishware pieces, and old music.
Oyster said two kinds of items are in short supply: yarn, and silverware.
People come in with requests for those, she said.
Oyster, who thinks big, is setting up a situation where a nurse will come in and work with people on first aid, CPR and STNA needs.
That kind of service had been provided by the Jefferson Township volunteer fire department, but that group is discontinuing that training.
In the long run, Oyster wants to move her operations to the Pumpkin Hollow building, along the river in Bellville.
That building is for sale, at a price over $200,000.
Oyster said she wants to set up a store and cafe, and hire veterans to provide service. This will also be done under her 5013c group, she said.
Providing this service means she has a “heart for veterans,” she said. They deserve more respect and service than they have received, she said.
When she started her enterprise, it was thought that it would be “just a garage sale inside for a couple of months,” she said.
She said her mother “looked at me like I’m a nut.”
Eventually, services will be extended to four counties, not just Richland, she said; but her first concern is people in Bellville.
Oyster has two children, one of whom will be married in October.
She is a graduate of Madison High School.
Oyster says “when” she can buy Pumpkin Hollow (not if), she wants to pay cash.
She will do it in “God’s time,” she said.
She has items not yet in the store, like appliances. Those are in a storage unit.
She applauds people in Bellville for acting with community spirit.
She said she already has “old timers” helping and wants to put efforts into attracting kids in the schools.
Going out and talking to veterans is also on her agenda, she said.
This kind of effort has “been in my heart,” she said.
Love for Hero’s is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day except Wednesday and Sunday, when the closing extends to 7 p.m.
Being able to do this kind of work has helped Oyster “finding out who I am,” she said.