BELLVILLE -- A newly formed Bellville-based nonprofit hopes to kick start its mission with its upcoming fall festival.
The Love our Hero’s Store and Donation Center has planned its first-ever Fall Fest from 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21 at the Clear Fork Adventure Resort, 341 Resort Dr. in Butler.
“I thought it’d be a fun way to raise money for veterans,” the nonprofit’s founder, Tami Oyster said.
The event will feature bounce houses, face painting and music by Midnight Rose DJ and Karaoke Service. The national anthem will be sung by two Clear Fork students, Deserae and Lexi Salkovick.
Food, including shredded chicken, hot dogs, chips, bottled water, will be available for a donation.
To further raise money, Oyster has planned a raffle, which she hopes will peak people’s interest. Items for raffle include a tailgate bench made by area resident Pat Wilt, a fire pit table and wooden flag donated by Love Our Hero’s, a two-night stay at Orchards Loft Clear Fork Adventure Resort, a photo shoot with Gusto Images, a $250 gift certificate for American Power Washing and more.
“This gentleman, (Pat Wilt) he came into my store, and he told me he makes tailgate benches, and asked if he could raffle one off for me, so I said, ‘yeah, sure,’” Oyster said. “I wasn’t even sure he’d come back, and well, he came back and told me everything about it had been donated and he was going to make it.I didn’t even know this gentleman.”
Wilt would send her occasional updated photos of the bench and later showed it to her in person.
“For someone to take time out of their day and do this for veterans, I was just blown away,” Oyster said. “It was gorgeous. I cried. I couldn’t even believe how beautiful it was.”
Love our Hero’s Store and Donation Center opened in January 2019 at 103 E. Durbin Ave.,Suite A, in Bellville.
“I had $690 saved up, so I rented a building for $600 a month and had $90 for marketing and advertising,” Oyster said. “I had planned to sell my stuff and give the money to the American Legion.
Then, customers began sharing the needs of local veterans with her. She decided to personally address their needs.
“We are paying for rent, utilities, groceries, car payments,” Oyster said.
She even paid for one veteran’s house repairs.
As word got around, people began bringing their own household appliances, furniture, garden tools and equipment, toys and even vehicles to the East Durbin Avenue location. They wanted to donate them to Oyster’s cause. The items were then resold to raise money for the nonprofit’s mission -- to support local veterans.
“I realized I needed to start a nonprofit,” Oyster said.
She hopes the Fall Fest will raise awareness of the Love our Hero’s Store and Donation Center and raise enough funds to possibly cover a new building as the business has already outgrown its current space.
“I’m sitting outside my third rented storage unit because I’ve got so many donations,” she said.
Long term, she’s decided she’d like the proceeds from the store to support home health care for local veterans, which she sees as a need in the community.
“I had a nurse come into the store, and she told me every time they have someone in this area, they get put on a waiting list because no one wants to travel here. And so we decided we should fill a need that is here.”
Ideally, she’d like to launch this service within the next two years.
Love our Hero’s is open from 9 to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.
To learn more, call 567-772-0001 or find the store on Facebook.