History of the FreeStore

The Past

The FreeStore began as an outreach project of St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church. The project offered support to families using The Children & Families of Iowa's Domestic Violence Services. One problem for the Children & Families of Iowa's Domestic Violence Services was that there often was a waiting list of women needing to enter their shelter. At the same time, women ready to leave the shelter could not go because they did not have household goods for their new apartments. (They usually had left their homes suddenly and with little but the clothes on their backs.) The idea of the FreeStore was born: provide household goods to these families!

Three men got to work.  They spread the word about their idea.  Soon donated goods started coming in and the men were kept busy picking up the goods and distributing them to women who were moving out of the domestic violence shelter.  At first they had one rental bay the size of a single garage, then two.  After a while even that space was too small.

The Present


The volunteer staff currently includes several teams (with occasional additional help) who pick up donated goods; six sets of people (greeters) who meet the women at the FreeStore; several men and women  who organize the hard goods and linens, a large number of people on call to drive the truck and help women move their selections, and dozens of other people who work behind the scenes. 


The warehouse idea has grown up. It gained notice and support from other organizations and area churches  and in 2005, it became the FreeStore, an independent 501(c)3 charity. In April 2006 we received a used moving truck from a generous supporter, and in June 2006, we moved to a more spacious, rent-free space donated by the Principal Financial Group.  And in 2011 we moved to our current location at 834 10th St., Des Moines. With 5 years of free rent we established a solid financial base and shipped 850 tons of furniture to 1217 families.  In 2015 we will celebrate 10 years as a corporation and expect to help 250 families.

The Future


As the project grows, we must continue to establish partnerships with other groups so the FreeStore’s future (financial and volunteer) will be secure.  In 2016, the FreeStore gave household items to  262 families, including beds for 378 children.   Our vision of the future is that donations and numbers of volunteers will increase so the number of families receiving help can increase —and you can help make that happen.


The FreeStore has three major needs:

● Funds to pay for mattresses, bed frames, chests, kitchen tables, other needed but unavailable items, and for warehouse utilities

● Donated household items

● Volunteers to pick up items, distribute them, and organize them


If you’d like to help, call (515) 282-3733