In this otherwise unassuming shed, Nicole Gory has stashed several boxes of donations in an effort to help people in the area who may be in need of some assistance. Photo from Facebook page.

ALTON – One of the first things to happen when Nicole Gory moved to Alton from Blue Mound, Illinois, was her home was robbed, and one of the only items taken was her 10-year-old son's Playstation 4.

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After word spread of what occurred, members of the community gathered together some money at Lighthouse Sounds in Alton, and donated it to her and her son. She used that money to purchase him a new Playstation 4, and she said the boy and his gaming system have been inseparable since. But, that is not the end of the story. Gory decided to repay the kindness of her new community by doing something she has wanted to do for years – ensuring people have what they need.

Called “The Magic Box Freecycle Shop,” Gory has cleaned her shed and is utilizing it to accept donations of new and gently-used articles of clothing as well as home cleaning supplies and unopened hygiene products. She said she was inspired by a woman who did something similar in Springfield, Illinois.

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“There was a woman who was doing this in Springfield, and I thought she was so great,” Gory said. “But, there was a lot of religious undertones there, and I think sometimes that might make people uncomfortable. I want people to feel safe coming here and not feel embarrassed or ashamed. We are open to all religious affiliations or no religious affiliation. I really just want to help people who need it.”

Gory put word out on social media regarding her freecycle shop, and the response thus far has been tremendous, she said. She sorted through several boxes of donated clothes early Wednesday afternoon and said she is always willing to take more. She also said she is looking for donations of shelving units and ways to hang clothes.

Because of her hectic work schedule as a nurse, Gory said the shop is not open every day. She said hours each week will be posted on its Facebook page as early as five days before it opens, and she is open to people contacting her to schedule appointments to peruse donations if they are in need.

She continuously assured she would not judge anyone who needed help, adding she has been in several situations throughout her life in which she was in awful circumstances and relied on the kindness of strangers doing similar things to what she is attempting now.

The Magic Box Freecycle Shop is located at 1907 Burling in Alton. Gory said she invites people who would like to donate or utilize the shop's resources to contact her via cellphone at (217) 415-9077. She said she would travel to pick up donations as well as schedule times for drop offs. Everything within the shop is free to anyone who needs it. She said no proof of need is required to utilize the resources.

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