With temperatures dipping below freezing, one group in the area is making sure you stay warm. St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store has begun giving away coats, jackets, boots, gloves, hats, and even snow pants from donations of winter clothing they have received from the community.
Volunteer Candace Lias said over 200 coats were given away last year. So far this year, Lias estimated more than 90 coats have been given out.
“We are a little short on kids’ coats. Maybe people who have coats their children have outgrown that are in good shape could bring them to the store so we could distribute them,” she said.
Winter outerwear give-aways will continue throughout the winter as clothing is available at the store.
“We have gloves, scarves, hats, boots, and ski pants. Someone might have to come back a second time to find something in their size, but they can always check back with us.”
Availability is limited to the donations made in a particular week.
“We don’t make a list,” Lias said yesterday on the WTYM morning radio show. “But there are always volunteers who keep their eye out for specific things. We encourage them to check with us in about a week to see if anything has come in for their size.”
The organization accepts donations of clothing or household items daily Tuesday through Saturday during preferred hours of 11AM-1PM. The store is open to the public from 10AM until 3PM those same days.
“We ask that donations are clean. Clothing with ripped pockets or frayed collars is not acceptable. We try to have clothing available that someone would be willing to give to their grandchild. We don’t want people who are in need of a coat to feel less (of a person). We also don’t have any way of washing clothes or getting them dry-cleaned, so we ask that it be done before they are brought here.”
The store at 121 Market Street went through renovations this summer and Lias said they are hoping to do more in the future.
“We re-did the front of the store. Our windows were really bad, so we re-did the windows and the doors. We are also hopeful we can get a façade grant when they become available to do more outside. We are also planning in February to do some interior work.”
Lias said that the store has a total of 68 volunteers to accomplish its mission.
“Nobody gets paid here. Everybody that works in this store is a volunteer.”
St. Vincent de Paul organization has helped those in need with donations of household goods and clothing, but Lias said there are four other groups that are a part of the organization that help pay heating bills, have helped cancer patients, and generally helping other people down on their luck.
“That’s where the money goes from the sale of items in the store – It goes to help people.”
Lias said she is so proud of Armstrong County and the support the store has received over the years.
“I think Armstrong County for being as (economically) depressed as it is, the people are wonderful. When there is a crisis and people need things, I am so impressed how the people of Armstrong County reach out. It’s not just rich people. It’s people that have a hard time themselves, but will give what they have for any disaster if you ask them. I am proud to be from Armstrong County! We really care about each other.”
There is a limit of one coat per person and that person must come to the store to pick it out.