As president and co-founder of Love Our Veterans, Inc. (L.O.V. for short), Kevin Popko, is always excited to report that the 501(c)(3) he started with a mission of hope and encouragement for local Veterans in need, recently celebrated their one-year anniversary of operations. After a grand opening in July 2022, they also exceeded their goals for year one!
The mission operates L.O.V. Thrift Store to generate funding to help local veterans in need. Kevin (a former U.S. Marine Corps Sniper and a Veteran with a passion for service) and his wife and co-founder, Gini, live on Lake Norman with their children, Kevin’s mother, and their dogs, having relocated here from the D.C. area in 2005.
After being laid off from his career as a sales manager after Covid and supply chain issues, Kevin volunteered at ELCM (East Lincoln Christian Ministries) and loved the work. That’s when his wife and mother stepped in, saying “You love what you do at ELCM — maybe you should start your own charity for Vets!”
“Hearing that from the two most important women in my life inspired me to say- GAME ON!” Fast forward a few months and Love Our Veterans was born. “Gini and I are co-founders and run the store together with help from many,” says Kevin. “We accept almost anything which is why we’ve been very successful. We shy away from kids and baby toys/clothes, blinds, beds (frames, mattresses, headboards) ceiling fans and treadmills. The store has 6,000-square-feet of items donated to help Veterans.”
You’ll find everything from home décor, holiday décor, kitchen accessories, appliances (large and small) and furniture, to sports equipment, tools, TVs and electronics, shoes, and men’s and women’s clothing. People are pleasantly surprised when they first come in, not knowing how spacious the store is! The thrift store is located in Denver/Maiden on the Lincoln/Catawba county line.
“People in the community will bring donations to the store, and we’re going to clean them up, fix what needs fixing, test it, and then put it out on the showroom floor to resell to the public at a great price. One hundred percent of the revenue from our sales will go directly to Lake Norman area Veterans.”
Kevin also shares that support from the LKN community has been incredible.
“Within our first year of operating we have helped, in some form or fashion, 21 Veterans. Our goal was 12. We have exceeded all expectations because of the community support, which includes our humble staff of volunteers who give the most important commodity in life — their time!”
Also much appreciated are the folks who deliver the items, and the shoppers who buy these items. There’s also enthusiastic support from local and corporate businesses, and L.O.V. has also partnered with several other non-profits with similar goals.
“We’re not a national group like Wounded Warriors,” he says. “I’m focused on Lincoln, Catawba, and Iredell counties, as well as some in Mecklenburg. Veterans who need assistance should come by the store to fill out an application.
L.O.V. Thrift Store is located at 6012-A Hwy. 16 in Denver, NC, next to Untouchables and Dollar General. Visit soon, follow them on Facebook for updates, or for more information and volunteer opportunities, call 704-966-0174. Thrift store hours are Tuesday through Friday 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., and Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Volunteers are especially needed on Tuesdays and Fridays!