Hittin’ the road

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The Big House Foundation reaches mobile clothes closet fundraising goal

By Rebekah Martin
Associate Editor

Bus-purple

The wheels on the Big House bus will soon be going ‘round and ‘round. The fundraising campaign that kicked off earlier this month has already reached its goal of $10,000, only 17 days after it began.
The end goal? To expand Big House’s current clothes closet, put it on a school bus, paint it purple and take it to rural counties throughout Alabama that could benefit from the resources that Big House offers.
The Big House foundation is a nonprofit ministry that serves foster and adoptive families in the East Alabama area. Blake and Micah Melnick founded Big House during their senior years at the University of Alabama, after watching Micah’s parents become foster parents for the first time. Big House holds events year round, including a prom dress event in the spring and a Santa’s Workshop event during the Christmas season. Before this school year began, Big House supplied more than 70 children in Lee County with everything on their back-to-school supplies lists.
Micah said while Big House currently has a clothes closet that is somewhat mobile, there are a few obstacles that make the process harder than it needs to be. She said she believes, once the bus is up and running those obstacles will be non-existent.
“So the goal of the mobile clothes closet bus is to take the same concept and go into these different counties that don’t have these resources, being able to keep it stocked or stock it over the week, drive the bus into town, plug in and let families come and shop,” Micah said. “I think it’ll make things so much easier because there won’t be all the set up and take down and we can just pull out when we are done. We are really excited about that, and I think this will free us up to take it once a month as opposed to twice a year.”
Micah said she and Blake are excited to see the bus become a reality and witness all the good that will come from it. “We have such a generous community – Lee County is awesome. I think there’s a reason I feel like we were called back to this area to start Big House because it has just flourished here,” she said. “We sometimes have so much stuff that we could keep but don’t have room for, so we are hoping that this will assist with that as well. I think having the bus will help us get more of the donations we get out the door and to kids in foster care.”
Blake and Micah teamed up with students in Randy Bartlett’s Industrial Design class at Auburn University to come up with sketches of what the bus could look like. “If we are going to do this we don’t want it to just be a school bus that has been gutted and has some racks in it. We want our families to walk on and feel like they’re in a boutique and the kids to say ‘I can’t wait for that to come back because that was awesome,’” Micah said. “That’s kind of our goal with everything we do with foster families. We want it to be done well, we want our families to want to come to the events because they’re done well and because they feel valued. Our families are never an afterthought.”
With the goal met just this week, Micah said the next step is to find a bus and begin the conversion. Micah said the bus, in all of its purple glory, will be on display at the annual Big House benefit dinner in February.
Blake said he is grateful for all of Big House’s generous donors that have made this project a reality. The Kickstarter campaign, while already completely funded, is still growing and any additional funds raised will be earmarked for bus-related expenses. To donate, visit www.bighousebus.com.
For more information on The Big House Foundation, visit www.ourbighouse.org.

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