With the holidays upon us, a lot of people are looking for ways to give thanks, and you can get your whole family in the giving spirit by helping out a brand new charity.
It’s “Free Store Penn Hills“. The words “free” and “store” may not seem to go together, but it really is a store where everything is free — you don’t even need to bring your wallet! The founder, Heather Hopson, was inspired by the free stores in Braddock and Wilkinsburg and wanted to create one in her own community.
When you walk inside Free Store Penn Hills, the theme “love your neighbor” is clear from both the words on the wall and the volunteers who are giving their time, money and talents to create this store inside the Lincoln Park Community Center. Hopson says people of all races and backgrounds should support each other because “at any given moment, any of us can find ourselves in need.”
She chose to locate the store in Penn Hills because of her commitment to the community. “I am a 5th generation Penn Hills resident,” Hopson says. “My father, as a matter of fact… went to Lincoln Park (school). In fact, his 5th grade classroom is where the Free Store now stands,” she adds.
Free Store Penn Hills offers everything from clothing to housewares, books to holiday items, purses to backpacks.
You’ll find all sizes, big and small, for adults and kids. Everyone can take 5 items.
While the parents shop, the kids can play in the kid area. On Saturdays, they’ll have arts and crafts workshops. They welcome any new crafts donations. You can find their Amazon Wish List on their Facebook page.
They also need donations of brand new toiletries — things like deodorant, toothpaste and diapers.
Most of the items are used, or as they call it, “loved”, and they need those donations to keep the store full. “We would love families to really embrace this as a project around the holidays,” Hopson says. “As you’re making a list to Santa Claus, why not have your kids go in their room and pack up a box they can donate?”
In addition to giving out material goods, Free Store Penn Hills is also are giving out information about resources in the community. You’ll find brochures and experts there to help.
It’s open on Mondays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Lincoln Park Community Center in Penn Hills.