People who need food and other basic necessities won’t have to stand in line this summer on a steep hill to reach Crossfire Ministries.
The longtime Colorado Springs distributor of free food, clothing, personal hygiene products and household goods plans to relocate by July.
The 29-year-old Christian organization, now at 2120 E. La Salle St., is turning the former Academy Carpet store on North Academy Boulevard near Austin Bluffs Parkway into its new headquarters, said Executive Director Renee Beebe.
“We want to have a central location where all people feel welcome,” Beebe said.
The old and new locations are about 4 miles apart, but Beebe doesn’t expect the move to have a big impact on clients. Most of the 200 families who use the food pantry three days a week have vehicles, she said.
The new building also is on a city bus route, important because some clients rely on public transportation.
“It’s located in the heart of the city,” Beebe said.
Crossfire Ministries is the largest food pantry in the Care and Share Food Bank of Southern Colorado network, said Lynne Telford, CEO of Care and Share.
As a “low-barrier” operation, Crossfire is known for collecting and giving away donated items to anyone who says they need help, with no income restrictions or other qualifications.
The new building is one level. With 25,000 square feet, it provides more than twice the space of the current three-story office building.
Renovations are underway to create a “no-cost grocery store” look and feel, along with sections where clients also can select furniture, dishes, clothing, toiletries, equipment for children and other goods.
The grocery-store model for charitable food pantries is becoming popular in the Pikes Peak region, and Crossfire's will be the largest of its kind in southern Colorado, Telford said.
The setup turns an act of charity into a real shopping experience, officials say, instead of recipients picking up prepackaged boxes of food.
“Our partnership with Crossfire Ministries is critical in the ability to get food into the hands of our neighbors who may be unsure of where their next meal is coming from,” Telford said. “As our largest partner, Crossfire exemplifies dignity and choice for everyone.”
Care and Share last month opened in Fountain its first pantry run by the food bank, with clients able to move from room to room to select non-perishable staples, refrigerated products, fresh produce and desserts.
The Marian House Kitchen, a project of Catholic Charities of Central Colorado, also opened a food pantry at its downtown Colorado Springs site last month, with clients selecting what they want and need off shelves.
“It just heightens the experience for our guests,” Beebe said of the format, which also is used in a limited way at the current site.
An “amazing deal” is driving what constitutes the organization’s third expansion.
The old carpet store property at 3975 N. Academy Blvd. was listed for sale at $3.2 million, but Crossfire obtained it in December for $2 million, Beebe said.
The organization negotiated a low-cost repayment plan with the lender, she said, with talk of the building being donated to the organization in the future.
To pay for renovations of the new site, Crossfire sold its current building for $700,000, according to the county assessor’s office. A supporter had donated the office to the organization, Beebe said.
Work at Crossfire’s new location includes refurbishing the parking lot, buying a commercial refrigerator and freezer, replacing floors and lighting and adding a new furnace.
“It’ll improve how we serve the community,” Beebe said.
The large building will offer training rooms for other organizations to use.
Crossfire opened in 1992 in a small space near Union Boulevard and Platte Avenue and has been at the La Salle Street location for eight years.
During her childhood, Beebe worked alongside her parents at the ministry, which is supported by churches, foundations and organizations such as Pikes Peak United Way.
Crossfire remained open for food giveaways throughout the pandemic, Beebe said.
“Crossfire has been a source of connection and relation,” she said. “People feel loved in this place. It’s somewhere they can gather hope and make friends with others who are going through the same thing they are.”