BARBERTON, Ohio — Cindy Bach was volunteering at a Barberton soup kitchen in 2012 when she met a man who needed a pair of jeans to wear for a landscaping job interview. She helped him find free clothing and then realized there was a greater need in the community.
A few months later, she opened Common Threads Closet in the basement of Lakeview United Methodist Church on 3rd Street NW.
The non-profit originally served about 30 families. Six years later, the community store is providing clothing, household items, shoes, small appliances, toys and books to about 2,700 families at almost no cost.
Common Threads has an annual $5 co-op fee. In exchange, families can receive 30 adult clothing items, 20 clothing items for kids and six household items per month.
"They can pay it five cents at a time, or if they have it, they can pay it all up front, but they don't have to pay the first time they come in," Bach said.
The non-denominational faith-based initiative is staffed solely by volunteers and the vast majority of the items are donated by the community. Bach said grant money helps pay for underwear and pillows.
Linda Pinnick, of Barberton, helps sort, hang and display donations as they arrive at the church.
"It gives me a feeling of worth that I'm helping people. I've been very blessed. I'm very fortunate in my life and I like to give it back," Pinnick said.
Stefanie Musgrave-Witt, 42, is married with three kids and shops at the store once a week.
"I don't do a whole lot of school clothes shopping because I use places like this because each child can have a bunch of pieces of clothing per month," Musgrave-Witt said.
Bach said some of the customers come in during their lowest moments of their lives. That includes relatives who suddenly gain custody of children after their parents get into trouble with drugs.
However, the volunteers also see a lot of positive moments in the store when customers bond with each other and share job leads.
"I just think that if we all do a little bit, the world is going to be okay," Bach said.
The store is open from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursdays and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.