Tables, chairs, couches and other items are offered at Furniture Friends on Saunders Way in Westbrook. The organization is planning a virtual event early next month to raise funding to meet the increased demand in greater Portland due to the pandemic. Michael Kelley / The Forecaster

WESTBROOK — Since the pandemic hit, Furniture Friends, like so many other organizations across the state, has seen an increase in demand for its services. The nonprofit provider of furniture to those in need in greater Portland will hold a fundraiser next month to help it keep up with the demand.

Furniture Friends hosts its first ever Virtual Slumber Party on Oct. 3. The event kicks off at 7 p.m. with a Zoom gathering hosted by Blake Hayes and Kelly Towle from Coast 93.1. At 7:30 p.m. a bedtime story will be read by a surprise guest, followed by other activities.

Bob Price, Furniture Friends warehouse assistant, helps Portland resident Ali Shakaki pick out a box spring and mattress last week at the Westbrook warehouse. Michael Kelley / The Forecaster

Executive Director Jenn McAdoo said participants are encouraged to raise at least $100, the cost to provide a bed to someone in need. As of last Friday, $9,025 of the $15,000 goal had been raised. An anonymous donor has agreed to match every dollar raised up to $15,000.

Last year, the organization provided beds, bureaus, tables, chairs, sofas and other donated furniture to more than 640 families across the area. Since 2015, it has given out $1 million in furniture to its clients, McAdoo said.

The majority of Furniture Friends’ clients have been new immigrants, but that is shifting with the pandemic.

“In the past six months we have seen an uptick in non-immigrant Mainers and we have a sense it has to do with the economic impact of the coronavirus and how people have been impacted. We anticipate that will continue for the foreseeable future,” McAdoo said.

The organization will not be able to meet that demand, she said, without help from the community to serve its clients.

“I am very impressed when I came in here,” said Ali Shakaki, a native of Iraq, who was at the Furniture Friends warehouse on Saunders way Sept. 18 to pick up a mattress and box spring and look at other furniture.

Since 2015, Furniture Friends have given away $1 million in furniture to those in need in the greater Portland area. Michael Kelley / The Forecaster

The free furniture, he said, is just one of the ways the community has made him feel welcome since coming after he, his wife and their five children came to Maine in 2017, first settling in Westbrook and now Portland.

“People are friendly and very nice. I am very appreciative of the community. They have helped us a lot,” he said.

Social service organizations refer their clients to Furniture Friends, which has been in operation since 2012. Some people need an item or two, while others may need an entire home’s worth of furniture. Before the pandemic, Furniture Friends picked up donated furniture, but that has been put on hold. Items can still be dropped off by appointment. All furniture is inspected, sanitized and now, because of the coronavirus, put aside for at least six days before it is made available.

“It’s like a revolving door around here. Things come in and they go out just as fast as they came in,” McAdoo said.

Furniture Friends has four employees and a $210,000 annual operating budget.

For more information about Furniture Friends, visit furniturefriends.org or call 210-5797.

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