Each day the Common Ground Free Store is open at 193 E. Central Ave. in Delaware, about 100 low-income people stop by for a meal, clothing or household items, said Sharon Griner, the store's executive director.

In February, Common Ground expects to operate a second store from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays in space provided by the Press Church Outreach Center, 425 S. Sandusky St.

"We're excited to offer them space," said the congregation's pastor, the Rev. Jason Allison.

The church plans to open a second location near Powell in January, he said.

"We wanted to make sure space here was available for the community," he said.

He said the church reached out to Common Ground and said, "We'd love to partner with you ... and help them do the good work they do."

Griner said the congregation's offer is one example of what she calls the community's amazing generosity in response to a definite need.

Each time the store is open, she said, it sees three to five new families for the first time in addition to dozens of others.

She estimated that about 2,000 families are provided frequent help by Common Ground.

The families served are in "all kinds of situations" economically, she said.

"Some are homeless. Some are living in poverty. Most are working and trying to make ends meet," she said. "It's hard when someone isn't making a good wage. We provide things they can use to stretch their dollars a little further, to provide needs like food, gasoline and rent."

Common Ground relies heavily on donations and volunteers, Griner said. Its eight paid staffers are part-time employees.

In an average year, she said, at least 1,500 volunteers provide some service in support of Common Ground.

As many as 20 volunteers man the store when it's open five days a week, she said, and volunteers are welcome to stop by unannounced to help out.

"They show up and we show them what to do. It's not hard," Griner said. "Teens and kids with their parents have volunteered."

The store accepts gently used clothing and shoes for all ages, plus household items such as dishes, blankets, toys and toiletries, she said. Also accepted are new and unused socks and underwear.

Common Ground also accepts appliances if they can fit on a shelf, such as microwaves and toasters, Griner said.

Most of the donations are from individuals, but some congregations and organizations donate regularly, she said.

"This time of year, donations are really coming in heavily. ... It tends to slow down when we get to the middle of winter or later summer," she said.

Common Ground doesn't provide a food pantry, she said, but it serves meals when open on East Central Avenue and accepts nonperishable food items.

At the Press Church site, she said, Common Ground will offer refreshments and coffee.

More than once, she said, someone arriving at the store has had a desperate need for a specific item. In those cases, Griner said, "We say something to somebody, and somebody responds and brings it in."

Also more than once, "Volunteers have gone out and bought something somebody needed without being asked," she said.

Common Ground is open from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays; and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays.

For more information on Common Ground, go to commongroundfreestore.org.

For more information on Press Church, go to presschurch.tv.

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