Kimberly Williams and Brad Paisley are stepping up during the pandemic. Here's how

The city of Nashville has a new charity endeavor which is helping those affected by the pandemic and natural disasters. Its story actually began in Santa Barbara, California, at a charity store named Unity Shoppe. Country singer Brad Paisley recalled the visit he made with his wife, Kimberly Williams Paisley. "We took our boys to Unity Shoppe to teach them about serving others and giving back to people in need," he said. "And we came away surprised by what the organization had taught us. Most people don't want handouts. They want dignity and respect. Most people want to become self-sufficient" (via The Store).

That visit led to the idea of opening a modern-day food pantry that would be called "The Store." The outlet is the result of a collaboration with a food bank and Paisley's alma mater, Belmont University, to provide free groceries to families with referrals from both nonprofit and government agencies. Paisley serves as the president of The Store's board of trustees. "This is a grocery store with dignity for people who have fallen on hard times," the country singer told The Tennessean. "All of us are one unforeseen disaster away from rock bottom. It's nice to think about a place where when that happens to someone, they can use it to get back on their feet."

The Store has been critical to helping those affected by the pandemic

It took three years for the Paisleys and their team to get The Store up and running. They had just begun stocking before a tornado hit and COVID-19 swept through the state. Kimberly Williams-Paisley said The Store gives her and her husband a sense of purpose. "So many of us feel helpless right now," she told The Tennessean. "There's so many people, who aren't on the front lines, who want to know what they can do to help. This feels like one of those things for us. We're pouring a lot into this."

The Store currently delivers 330 bags of free groceries a week around Nashville, and the store is staffed by a handful of part-time employees. Aside from this, the group serves food from Wednesday to Saturday — they've served 15,000 meals in two months.

This months-old charity is crucial to the state, which has seen unemployment hit 500,000 since mid-March. Most of those who go to The Store are either waiting for an unemployment check or are waiting for jobs that will never come. When Belmont University reopens, The Store hopes to attract student volunteers to get involved in an endeavor that has managed to find its purpose just days after it opened its doors.