Gahanna 12-year-old Sam Baker has initiated a "Clean Your Closet Campaign" to benefit local residents who might need gently used clothing.

Gahanna 12-year-old Sam Baker has initiated a "Clean Your Closet Campaign" to benefit local residents who might need gently used clothing.

Baker told ThisWeek his decision to collect clothing was part of a community-service project for his bar mitzvah in August.

"For the bar mitzvah, you're supposed to have some sort of service project with 25 hours of work," he said. "I was thinking about how there's a lot of people in the world who don't have what they need. Then I realized there are people in the community who don't have what they need. I thought it would be neat to help in my neighborhood."

The Gahanna Middle School East sixth-grader is collecting new and gently used clothing, from infant to size 20.

Clothing may be dropped off at the Baker residence, 909 Taurus Ave., between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday, May 28.

The clothing drive will benefit the Free Store at Stonybrook United Methodist Church, 385 Cherry Bottom Road, Gahanna.

The Free Store provides gently used clothing for any residents in need. Over the past winter, the store donated 50 to 70 winter coats to assist families.

"I've known about the clothing store since I attended High Point Elementary," Baker said. "Around the holidays, we would collect gifts for the store."

A member of Stonybrook will pick up the clothing from Baker sometime over Memorial Day weekend.

"Sam learned that they are always in desperate need of clothing for children, and he decided to help," said Lori Baker, Sam's mother. "We're excited his idea has turned into such a huge thing. We're incredibly proud of his commitment to help make his community a better place for all."

Baker spent $150 of his own allowance to print fliers and other materials to advertise the clothing drive.

"I help at home for an allowance, and during the summer, I pet-sit and clean people's garages," he said.

He posted 3,500 fliers through four elementary schools, Gahanna Middle School East, Stonybrook, St. Luke's preschools, All Saints Church, Temple Beth Shalom and his Boy Scout troop.

Baker also placed donation bins on loan from the city of Gahanna in several locations throughout Gahanna.

The Kroger Co. donated cardboard boxes for sorting the clothing by size and gender.

Sam said many of his friends would volunteer on Saturday to help unload cars and sort clothing.

Anyone who drops off clothing will be entered into a drawing to win gift cards Baker has purchased. In addition, many businesses donated, including Rotelli's Pizza, CiCi's Pizza, Cold Stone Creamery, Smoothie King, Johnny Buccelli's, Raising Cane's and Rita's Italian Ice.

Anyone who can't drop off clothing on Saturday may contact Baker for pickup at (614) 855-2699.

Sharon Blunt, manager of Stonybrook's Free Store, said the church had seen a need and opened the store in 2008.

"It's open to anyone who needs help," she said. "If they're getting free clothing, they could use the money they would use to buy clothing for rent or food."

She said the store especially needs children's and baby's clothing.

"I've had children volunteer before, but this is the first time a young man has taken it upon himself to get the donations," she said. "It's very good."

The Free Store is open from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays and from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Saturdays.