We’ve all heard the proverb, “necessity is the mother of invention.” For the founders of The Giving Tree, it was more like, “Frustration is the mother of invention.” They all had the shared experience of putting significant effort into school fundraisers that yielded little monetary reward for the schools. As PTO members, parents and school volunteers, they were able to see firsthand how much work goes into annual fundraising programs so that their schools raise the additional monies needed for educational, enrichment and extracurricular activities for our students.
This led them on a search for alternative ways to raise money for their schools. One of the successful business models that came to their attention was the “Non-Profit Resale Thrift Store.” Through the resale of donated goods, these stores are able to earn money for their causes of choice. The model was profitable and sustainable, so they thought; why not try something like this here in Wake Forest?
With a lot of hard work and a few garages full of donations to get things started, the dream become a reality and our own community Giving Tree opened its doors in August of 2013. The store is located at 839 South Main Street in a renovated home-turned retail store.
They decided to move beyond the traditional thrift-shop environment by creating a boutique environment that showcases how you can “bring once-loved home goods back life.” In the store you don’t have to “sift through junk to get to the good stuff.” Everything in the store is the good stuff at great prices. Most new customers have the same reaction when they visit The Giving Tree for the first time, “This does not look like a Thrift Store!” Exactly!
The Giving Tree employs a passive fundraising model requiring very little hands-on work on the part of the parents, students and the individual school system. Schools participate and earn credits through volunteering, donating and purchasing. These accumulated credits then translate back into cash donations at the end of each calendar year. The store supports fourteen K-12 schools in Wake Forest (public, private and charter).
Best of all, in less than 5 years, we have been able to give over $50,000 back to the schools in Wake Forest!
- We provide a boutique shopping experience offering unique, quality, once-loved home goods.
- We proudly serve as your community donation center of choice.
- We go above and beyond to bring your once-loved home goods back to life while offering superior customer service.
- We are passionate about serving and supporting our Wake Forest schools.
- We practice environmental responsibility by providing our community a reuse alternative for once-loved home goods.
All of our board members have a love for children and education, leading them to this opportunity to give back to our local schools through The Giving Tree Foundation. Each board member has a unique background providing for differing perspectives in our board ideas and decisions. Our goal is to continually assess both store operations and strategy to ensure we stay consistent to our mission of giving back to the local schools.
Leigh Grieco, Founder, has a BA in Psychology and worked for over 15 years in the field of Human Resources. Her experience spans the spectrum of HR, such as recruiting, benefits, compensation, employee relations, leadership development and business coaching. She also has experience in non-profit consulting, accounting and sales. Her most recent work experience was with Saint Catherine of Siena School as the PTO President for two years.
Ayesha Pandey, newly appointed Executive Director, is also the Store Manager for The Giving Tree. She has been working with the Giving Tree for over three years and is responsible for all of the daily store operations. Prior to starting with The Giving Tree, Ayesha worked as the Store Manager for a local furniture store in Raleigh.
Kathy Jolly has over 15 years of experience in the customer service industry, including retail sales and travel. Her most recent work experience is as a part-time Sales Director for the The Candy Cottage, responsible for quarterly sales events for the company. She also spends a significant amount of time as an elementary school volunteer at Thales Academy in Wake Forest, NC.
Susan White has a BA, MA and LCSW in Social Work and worked for over ten years as a Clinical Social Worker at several non-profit agencies. She then led her own private practice for several years. She just completed a year as the PTA President at Endeavor Charter School and continues to volunteer there on a regular basis.
Maureen Fortin has a BA in Communications/Advertising and Public Relations, with more than 15 years of experience in corporate communications, marketing, public relations and event planning. Currently she works part-time for a local real estate company providing research support and marketing assistance. She regularly volunteers at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic School, having just completed four years on the PTO Board – two years as the board Secretary and two years as the board President.