Leonard and Virgie's Place in Kennett needs donations

Leonard and Virgie's Place in Kennett needs donations

KENNETT, MO (KAIT) - Leonard and Virgie's Place in Kennett has clothed, fed and been a friend to countless people for more than two decades.

But it may have to close its charitable doors soon. The owner, Beverly Alford Thomas, can no longer afford her building after a recent rent increase.

For the past 20 years, Thomas has helped thousands of people without asking for anything in return, and now they are trying to pay back the favor.

"I've been helped quite a bit," said Deana Davison, a beneficiary of Leonard and Virgie's Place for three months. 

"There's many people that talk about her," said Satoria Hill, a 20-year beneficiary. "You can see people on the street and they'll tell you, 'Go to Virgie's Place.'"

"She doesn't turn anybody away," said Patricia Edmondson, a four-year beneficiary.  

"When people are in need, she's always there," said Samantha Price, a three-year beneficiary. "Always."

Thomas helps anyone from anywhere with anything they need for free. People have come from Missouri, Arkansas and Tennessee to get clothes, diapers, food and more. 

Thomas also does not turn anyone away based on their income level.

Last year, Leonard and Virgie's Place helped more than 8,000 people without grant money. The nonprofit organization survives on donations from the community, but Thomas also gives a lot from her own pocket.

"She has helped me keep my lights on," Hill said. "She has helped me pay my rent. She has really been there."

"She's always been there," said Naomi Jenkins, a ten-year beneficiary. "Even a lending ear, praying with you. That helps a lot."

"For Beverly, it's more than giving people stuff," said Doug Cripe, the pastor of First Christian Church in Kennett. "She's there to listen to them and come along and be their spiritual friend and comfort. She does an amazing job on a shoe-string budget being able to pull off all that she does here."

But the era of Thomas' charitable giving may soon come to an end.

"I've had some health issues and I can't put the money back into the business like I used to," Thomas said. "And the rent has gone up so high that I can't afford it."

Thomas just beat breast cancer, but is now suffering from a rare muscle disorder where she is constantly in and out of the hospital for treatments. She said she is not asking for donations but begging.

"It's about keeping this alive," Thomas said. "Even when I'm gone, I want this to keep going on. We give because that's what it's about and I give it with love."

The people who receive this love could not imagine a community without her.

"I don't know what we would do because sometimes there's times when we don't have anything," Price said. "My daughter wouldn't have the clothes she needs and the food."

"there are a lot of families that have to come here because their resources are so low," said Kimmerlee Patton, a year and a half beneficiary. "Without Virgie's Place, it's going to be devastating to a lot of people."

"We've got to help her keep her business open because the community benefits from her," Hill said. "And it's about time the community does something for her."

The community comes to Leonard and Virgie's Place as customers but leave as family.

"It's all about the love that I have for my brothers and sisters," Thomas said. "Them all being here today, it just filled my heart."

"There's nothing I wouldn't do for her," Hill said. "Nothing."

"I would do anything for Ms. Beverly," Price said. "She has done everything for me and my family and I will go to great lengths to help her. She's an angel sent from heaven."

These beneficiaries and more have been handing out fliers to the community asking for help. 

Thomas and the rest of the Leonard and Virgie's Place community is asking for monetary donations to cover the cost of her rent or a donation of a new space.

The nonprofit organization also needs food, diapers and toiletries. Thomas also asks local farmers to donate fresh produce, if possible.

If anyone would like to help Leonard and Virgie's Place, send checks made out to Virgie's Place, Inc. to 239 N. Main St. or call 573-888-2280. 

Copyright 2014 KAIT. All rights reserved.