Organizers are accepting donations of gently-used clothing, household items, toys, books, and more in preparation for this year’s Serve Central Free Store.
The event has taken place for more than 15 years and helps provide members of the community with personal and household needs free of charge.
This year’s free store event will take place from 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday in the Central High School cafeteria.
Central faculty members Zack Mills and his wife Jennifer have taken over organizing the event since the retirement of Coach Cindy Martin, who first started the program in 1995.
“We kind of do a little bit of a partnership between the church that we attend, which is the Bridge Community Church in Leadington, and the school district which provides the facility,” he said. “What we do is collect gently-used items from our church, community members, and a lot of our school faculty members. Then, we set up a free store at the high school cafeteria and try to get the word out through our school district and I’ll also be getting some information out to the Division of Family Services…”
Mills said that once everything is set up, people who have needs can come in and take whatever they need.
The number of people that Serve Central helps each year isn’t recorded but hundreds of area residents benefit from the donations as Jennifer explained.
“I think one year we tried to count and we stopped counting after about 250 to 300 [people] coming in and out,” said Jennifer. “I would estimate over 300 people a year [come to the event.]”
For those wishing to donate items, a collection location has been set up at the Bridge Community Church located at 301 Lore Lane in Leadington. Mills said donations can be dropped off at the church office between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Donations will also be accepted the evening before the event, on Nov. 15, from 4 to 8 p.m at the cafeteria.
Jennifer said that they have different items donated each year and no year is the same. Those who come out to the event should not necessarily expect to see the same items they might have seen in previous years. She said since the program relies solely on donations, they never know exactly what they will have.
“It’s kind of like if you think of things you would put in a yard sale – like somebody just contacted me today about donating a bed…,” said Jennifer. “So it really is kind of everything but it’s just for anybody in the community that’s in need of things for themselves or their kids.”