St. Vincent de Paul in Racine starting over after fire

RACINE (WITI) -- A Racine charity is starting over, one week after its store was lost to fire. St. Vincent de Paul of Racine is collecting donations once again -- and staff members say even after the fire, they never questioned whether they would stay in business.

Donations were being dropped off at St. Vincent de Paul in Racine on Thursday, January 30th. Restocking the warehouse is the next step toward restoring the Racine thrift store following a fire last week.

"I'm actually still in shock when I go into the office. It's very hard for me to talk about. I just want to stay going here, stay focused and do as much as I can for the community, for St. Vincent de Paul, to get it up and running again," Manager Sherry Leka said.

Leka says the store will be closed for at least several weeks, but she says the donations are still vital -- not only for the store, but also so the charity can give out items to those with an immediate need.

"It's appreciated so very much," Leka said.

Julie Freres was among those dropping off items on Thursday.

"To be able to help somebody when times are tough, and I can't imagine what the people have been experiencing after the fire, so I want to help them go forward with their mission so if I can help them in my own little way, I will," Freres said.

Thursday was the first day St. Vincent de Paul was taking donations since the fire -- and staff members were on hand to sort things.

"The response has been unbelievable with the donations we're getting here, which is just overwhelming because it's wonderful that the community is coming together to give us donations on our first day like this. The donations have been wonderful," Leka said.

While starting over is a struggle, staff members say the charity will survive one item at a time.

"We're here for the mission. We're here to help the needy people," Leka said.

St. Vincent de Paul was already planning to move its thrift store to a bigger building in Waterford.

Eventually, that's where most of the donations will go.

Those looking to donate can visit the facility in Racine Friday and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. St. Vincent de Paul is located at 926 Lasalle Street in Racine.