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Wyoming Food for Thought Project is opening the first Free Store in Casper on Saturday. And there’s a party to go with it.

Located in a portable classroom at the former Roosevelt High School, 140 East K St., the grand opening and party is set for 2 to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Free hamburgers and hot dogs, as well as food from the Food for Thought Urban Farm will be served.

The concept takes the free fellowship closet one might find in a church basement up a notch. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to participate. Donate things you don’t need or use anymore and take what you need.

There is no signup necessary and there are no qualifications for shopping there.

“We decided to utilize this space, which is donated by Casper Housing Authority, to share the love with the items we pick up every week through our Good360 partners, Bed, Bath, and Beyond,” said Jamie Purcell, Food for Thought executive director.

Good360 is a Virginia-based nonprofit whose mission is to help companies donate excess merchandise to charities instead of destroying it. Purcell said they have been picking up items from Casper’s BB&B for about a year, sometimes one box a week and sometimes a pickup truck full of new merchandise.

“Our mission and work began around food, but we have seen the power of community and know that simply limiting our work to food does not do our mission justice,” Purcell said.

Purcell said they literally have been storing away the BB&B goods for a year with the intent of starting a Free Store. They did a trial run with Casper Immigration Alliance before Christmas, welcoming families in to take what they needed absolutely free.

Free Store director Laura Gamble has been the lead organizer of the store by gathering donations and organizing the store.

“I plan to be open once or twice a month after the grand opening, probably on Saturday afternoons, but since the Free Store relies solely on volunteers, it will depend upon the number of volunteers we have,” Gamble said.

The storage space is currently full, waiting for Saturday’s grand opening shoppers. Once the inventory has been depleted, someone will be available most Friday afternoons to take donations from the public.

Current wants and needs are baby and toddler items and clothing, as well as men’s clothing. Any donations that are in good condition are welcome, except perishable food and weapons.

Appointments are recommended to be certain someone is there before donating. Contact Laura at 797-0067 (call or text) or email lauragamble8485@yahoo.com.

Follow community news editor Sally Ann Shurmur on Twitter @WYOSAS

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Community News Editor

Sally Ann Shurmur arrived at the Star-Tribune to cover sports two weeks after graduating from the University of Wyoming and now serves as community news editor. She was raised in Laramie and is a passionate fan of Cowboys football, food and family.

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