By Mike Steely
“Many people with limited incomes cannot clothe their families at the prices charged by most non-profit thrift stores. Our aim is to get the needed items to people at the lowest prices while covering operating expenses,” the leaflet for the Community Chest states. The store, with locations at 1508 North Central Street and 122 West Scott Avenue, is a not-for-profit clothing and household items shop serving everyone but focusing on those in distressed situations and those with low incomes.
Clothing at the Community Chest only costs $1 each. Both stores feature dresses, skirts, blouses, sweaters, pants, coats, shoes, purses and clothing for men, women and children. Household items include furniture, large and small appliances, lamps, dishes, pots and pans, toys, books, CDs, DVDs, curtains, bed linens and much more.
Cynthia Fort, manager of the Central Street store, said there’s a need for men’s clothing, pants and shoes as well as for children’s clothing or any household items. She’s assisted by Linda Williams and, when The Focus was there last week Phillip Malkovich, one of the volunteers, was there working on donated electronic items.
When asked about the store’s most unusual donation the answer came immediately from both Cynthia and Linda: bag pipes. Cynthia said the most expensive items donated have included prints by local artists and certain clothing items.
You can share with your neighbors by donating good used clothing and household items at the 1508 North Central Store. Recycling clothing and household items is a great way to be a good steward of the earth’s resources. It shows care for our neighbors, who must struggle for an adequate share of life’s resources.
Any extra funds raised from clothing and household sales at Community Chest go to benefit FISH Hospitality Pantries (a.k.a. Hospitality Pantries, Inc.), which operates three pantries in East, South and Northwest Knoxville. FISH focuses on what more can be done to help ensure that everyone gets enough to eat.
In Knox County 57,000 people live in poverty — more than 25% of them are children. Thousands of other families live near the poverty line and struggle for the basic necessities. The number of families who come to the food pantries has more than doubled in the last two years.
Jim Wright, Director of FISH and the Community Chest stores, told The Focus that the organization works to make sure people have enough to eat and that FISH is “non-judgmental and inclusive.”
“We have 300 volunteers, 100 of which are former food recipients. It’s good when people seeking food see people like themselves serving,” he said.
Wright said the Community Chest began in Powell on West Emory Road in 1999 and now has three locations dispensing food: South Knoxville at Vestal United Methodist Church at 1150 Ogle Avenue, East Knoxville at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church at 600 South Chestnut, and at 122 West Scott Avenue at FISH’s 10,000 square foot warehouse. The hours are 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. at each location, however the days differ. Scott Avenue dates are Tuesday, Thursday and fourth Saturdays; East Knoxville days are Monday and Wednesday, and the South Knoxville location is Wednesdays and Fridays.
“We provide food for 8,000 families each month,” Wright said, adding, “It’s just for people who need food when they need it.”
“All that we do shows respect,” he said. The donated food comes from grocery stores and wholesale food distributors along with some food purchased in order to supply a healthy diet.
Wright said that anyone who wants to donate can send a check to the office at FISH Hospitality Pantries, 800 Northshore Drive, Knoxville, 37919.