Reporting Liz Collin
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (WCCO) – A Minnesota charity that has grown into the largest furniture bank in North America is celebrating its 25th anniversary.
The charity, Bridging, celebrated Tueday. It’s a chance to reflect on almost 60,000 people who have gotten furniture. It’s also a chance for Fran Heitzman, the man behind the charity, to return to the church where it all started.
It all started with one crib.
Twenty-five years ago, Pax Christie was a brand new church in Eden Prairie, Fran Heitzman was a maintenance worker, and a woman wanted to make a donation to the nursery.
“I said, ‘we’re all set there, but why don’t you leave it here and I’ll find a home for it,’” said Heitzman.
He donated the crib to Catholic Charities, but quickly started collecting furniture in the church hallways to give away to the needy.
“This is no rocket scientist idea,” he said. “Everybody’s got stuff, so give it to somebody who needs it.”
Now, Bridging has two large warehouses in Bloomington and Roseville, providing furniture, and comfort, for 75 families a week.
Starr Freeman has been homeless for two years. She just moved out of a youth shelter and into an apartment, but it’s empty, and she’s been sleeping on the floor. But that will change when they deliver her new furniture Wednesday.
“I was happy to get the bed,” she said. “It’s a queen size, too. So, I’m happy about that.”
Starr picked out enough furniture to fill up her new home, even dishes and pillows. And she was moved to speak for all of the people Bridging has helped.
“I appreciate you for letting me come here and pick out my stuff for my place,” she said. “So, thank you.”
Bridging helps so many families that the warehouses turn over every three weeks. If you would like to donate furniture, click here.