Wanted: Space for aid agency relief supplies

July was a hectic month for York County's aid agencies. Twelve house fires left 12 families in need of anything from emergency housing to clothing and food.

The local American Red Cross chapter and other agencies handled the surge, but it highlighted what they see as an emerging need: A warehouse-type space big enough to store donated relief supplies.

Some agencies say they are forced to turn down donations such as furniture and appliances because they don't have anywhere to put them. When an unusually high number of fires occur in a short time -- July was double the monthly average -- those donations are sorely needed.

"There really is not enough room," said Maj. Melody McClure, who runs the local Salvation Army with her husband, Cedric. "If somebody gives us a washer, dryer and a dining room set, we're full. We do turn down some donations."

McClure and others have a solution in mind. They want to get shared access to a space where families could be sent for food, clothes, furniture and basic supplies.

The York Baptist Association has been talking about the same idea for months. So has the local United Way branch, which assigned an "impact team" to explore options earlier this year.

"It's time for something like that in Rock Hill," said Mike O'Dell, director of missions for the Baptist association. "We're at the point now where we need it. We could do a real nice place if we get several different agencies to work together."

Finding a suitable location

But no one knows of a building big enough, yet still affordable. The downtown Rock Hill area is viewed as the most logical location because most aid agencies are headquartered close by.

"We've heard that it's needed," said Sherron Marshall, who co-chairs the United Way committee. "Now we've got to figure out how to make it happen, quite frankly with no resources. And that's going to be our challenge."

Marshall's committee envisions the center not just as an emergency supply hub, but as a clearinghouse for families needing a range of services.

Visits would be tracked to make sure the same people aren't coming back every month. And organizers would structure the offerings to avoid overlapping with existing programs, Marshall said.