‘Free’ store helps those in need

See how volunteers are helping neighbors and homeless at what they call their ‘Paying it Forward Store’ …

Volunteer Rachael Murray helps “shoppers” find warm winter clothing during the first “Paying it Forward Free Store” event, held in the Lents neighborhood.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

The concept of “pop-up free stores” is relatively new, and gaining recognition for helping those in need to obtain clothing and some household goods.

Picture a rummage sale – in this case, taking place in the Community Room of the Lents neighborhood Pilgrim Lutheran Church. But, it’s not a sale at all. It’s free for those in need: In this “Paying it Forward Free Store”, shoppers are not charged for the goods they select.

Organizer James Anderson says he’s responding to the need in the community by those who cannot afford to buy it for good quality clothing.

“This is for people who need clothing, shoes, and books,” said organizer James Anderson at their first “free store”, held on November 21. “It is just to help people that are in need.”

Anderson said there are other “free” stores on SE 82nd Avenue of Roses, but he thought it could be done better. “And, I wanted to do east of the Avenue of Roses, to serve people here.”

In September, Anderson said he started contacting churches, and began gathering clothing. “The people at Pilgrim Lutheran Church responded that they would provide the space, and some volunteer help.”

Nonetheless, this effort is not affiliated with any church or religion, Anderson told East Portland News.

With stacks of good warm clothing available without cost, the Pay It Forward Free Store helps both needy families, and the homeless, to be more comfortable for the Holidays.

Through word-of-mouth, and social media, Anderson and his volunteers were able to fill several large vehicles and a 4 x 8-foot trailer with clothing for the event.

“Part of our mission is offering people good quality clothing, in good condition,” Anderson pointed out. “And we’re really happy we have so many good quality coats on the racks, just in time for winter.”

His next Pay It Forward Free Store takes place on December 19. “The ‘store’ will be open from noon until 3:00 p.m.

Consider donating items – but they especially need volunteers; call or text him at (971) 202-6714. And, if you’re a Facebook member CLICK HERE to see their “Groups” page.

It’s at Pilgrim Lutheran Church, 4244 SE 91st Avenue, 97266 (1 block north of Holgate Boulevard at SE 92nd Ave.).

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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