ORLANDO, Fla. – Whenever a major natural disaster hits, it's a life-changing situation for those whose homes are torn apart; their lives are completely turned upside down and they find themselves having to start from scratch to rebuild their homes.
The Mustard Seed of Central Florida, a local nonprofit organization, has been helping survivors of natural disasters and people who have hit hard times for the past 30 years.
From end tables to desks to a living room set, it's all inside a 20,000-square-foot warehouse where a new beginning starts for hundreds of families in Central Florida.
"It's been extremely hard but we've been working really hard to get back on our feet and do what we have to do for the kids," Chekasa Hampton said.
Hampton and her family were once homeless but now, they have their own pace and thanks to the Mustard Seed of Central Florida, they were able to pick their own furniture.
"It means the world to us. Honestly, we've been trying and calling to get furniture for a while so to be able to get this opportunity was one of a kind -- it was definitely amazing," Hampton said.
Executive Director of the Mustard Seed of Central Florida Kathy Baldwin said donations the organization receives are essential.
"Normally a family would receive somewhere between 14 to 16 pieces of furniture. We take in donations not only from the hotels in town and stores and retailers and manufacturers but grandma's house," Baldwin said.
Families can also count on the clothing boutique. Some of the clothing is donated by the community, but others items are brand-new, donated by local stores.
"We're touching people's lives. We're giving them a start again," Baldwin said.
And that's not the only way the Mustard Seed is getting results for the community. The organization also helps the environment by keeping used mattresses and box springs out of landfills. It's the only organization in the state with this type of program.
"This is something that allowed us to deconstruct 120,000 mattresses and box springs over the period of time to save 2.6 million cubic feet from the landfill," Baldwin said.
Employees are able to sanitize mattresses in good condition to give them to new families and those that aren't, the coils are recycled. The foam is then taken to another facility where it's reused as carpet padding.
"So what we have done we created a sustainable way of not only saving the environment but of being able to give people a second chance at a job opportunity," Baldwin said.
Since the program launched, it has provided employment for 11 people who couldn't get other jobs because of misdemeanor charges on their records. To continue helping the community, Baldwin said the organization needs assistance to purchase a more efficient machine to break down the mattresses.
"What we're looking for in our recycling center is to be efficient and to optimize space. We are not national, we do not have an umbrella, we are actually looking for those here in town that want to be able to support a local organization," Baldwin said.
It's an organization Hampton is grateful for and says is helping to give her family a new start.
"We would like to say thank you and we are very grateful," Hampton said.
In 2018 the Mustard Seed of Central Florida provided furniture and clothing to almost 3,000 people in the community.