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Pay It Forward: Burlington woman's donation store helping less fortunate

The store owner says around 50 people come to her business a day and many are homeless.

BURLINGTON, Iowa — A Burlington woman is helping provide for people who may not have the means to provide for themselves with her own donation store.  

Julie Johnson, 54, works a full-time job caring for her grandson Dalton.

"He's the light of my life, I wouldn't' trade him for anything," Johnson, the Pay It Forward nominator, said.

Dalton has autism and Johnson has been raising him since he was three. Johnson said she lives on a fixed income and has not had much help.  

"Money's real tight and I can't get many services down here for him," Johnson said.

There is one person named Sherry Bandy-Chamblee, the Pay It Forward nominee, who has taken a load off.

"If it wasn't for her help, we would be struggling a lot more," Johnson said.

Bandy-Chamblee runs Donation Connections. People donate items and she gives them away for free.

 "When I didn't have the money, she had things for Dalton," Johnson said. 

"Thank you for nominating Sherry for the WQAD and Ascentra Credit Union Pay It Forward," Barry Shaw with Ascentra Credit Union said to Johnson. "I'd like to present you this $300 to present to Sherry so that she can continue to listen, care and do what's right in her community through her mission."

"Thank you so much, she will really appreciate it," Johnson said.

"On behalf of Ascentra Credit Union and WQAD I'm going to present you this $300 for everything you've done for the community and helping everybody else," Johnson said to Bandy-Chamblee. "You're doing a wonderful job."

"Are you kidding me," Bandy-Chamblee, said. "Oh, thank you!" 

Bandy-Chamblee has struggles of her own. 

"29 years ago, I loss my children to foster care, I was an addict and alcoholic," Bandy-Chamblee said.

She saw how great people are in need and she wanted to do something about it. 

"People are homeless and need hygiene products," Bandy-Chamblee said.

She said around 50 people come to her store a day and many are homeless.

"I don't care what walk of life you came from, I don't care if you're using when you walk through my doors," Bandy-Chamblee said.

It's the support, people like Johnson, said means the world. 

"Stuff like this I can't afford to go buy," Johnson said.

"If you get toys and it makes a kid smile, I don't get paid to do this, but I do," Bandy-Chamblee said.

Donation Connections will be moving to a bigger location on July 6. It will be located at 3138 Sunnyside Ave. in Burlington. The business can be found on Facebook by clicking here.

If you know someone you'd like to nominate for the Pay It Forward Award, click here.