CLEVELAND, Ohio — A Cleveland-based nonprofit called "Another Chance of Ohio," is changing lives by giving away household goods for free to families — and coronavirus has only increased the need.
It all got started out of the founder’s own hardship.
“It’s no shame in my game," said shopper Betty Walker.
For the needy, not the greedy, Another Chance of Ohio aims to help Cleveland-area families like the Walkers.
Betty Walker is one of eight children and grew up shopping in second-hand stores.
“It’s already in my blood to shop at places like this,” she said.
Walker lives close by in the Slavic Village neighborhood and she comes to the “free store” with her five-year-old granddaughter, Amina, multiple times a week.
“I’m so glad it's in the neighborhood," said Walker.
But Walker doesn’t just shop. She gives back by donating too.
People can find everything from school supplies to shoes, clothing, and furniture — no charge, no red tape.
“All you do is take your time. You find some good stuff here. People donate good stuff here. Good stuff. Some stuff is brand new, some stuff still have tags on it," said Walker.
Another Chance of Ohio was born out of a promise founder Barbara Anderson made to God and her sister, Jane, who died in 1985.
“My sister struggled to live with cancer and the only way she could win that battle was to take her wings and go to heaven,” said Anderson.
It was then up to Anderson to raise not just her own four children, but her sister’s four children.
“People were constantly telling me to go to the Goodwill or go to The Salvation Army, and I would be okay. Well, when you multiply even The Salvation Army or the Goodwill by eight, sometimes that amount was just more than I could even handle.”
That’s when Anderson vowed that if she was ever in a position to give away household necessities to others, she would.
At first, her “free store” started in her basement. It then overflowed into her church, and the nonprofit continues to expand.
For the last 15 years, it’s proudly served the Southeast Cleveland neighborhood Anderson raised her children in.
But she says as a Black family, at first, they weren’t welcome in Slavic Village.
“I think it's a testament to what is good in the world. Yeah, there's some challenges, there's some rough spots, there's some valleys, but there's also a mountaintop, and that was what this is for me,” said Anderson.
Anderson’s life came full circle. Since 1990, she’s dedicated her time to helping those struggling the way she once did.
“It is a true lifesaver because I have six kids total, so it's like oh my God, where can I go will help with a bunch of kids? So, I come here for different sizes, different ages,” said shopper Michelle Carter.
"It means everything to me. I do think of the struggle that I had. And I do value the fact that so many people can come here, feel comfortable, get what they need. It makes me feel as though I have kept my promise to the Lord, but also to my sister. And so, that is very comforting for me," said Anderson.
In addition to the "free store," which is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., there’s a 24/7 food pantry.
It takes a village of hardworking volunteers and helping hands.
The pandemic inspired the group to make doorstep deliveries to older neighbors who maybe can’t venture out safely on their own.
Donations from Dollar Tree make it possible to give away back-to-school items now and toys during the holidays.
In a time when everyone could use a boost, Another Chance of Ohio is a sign of hope and gratitude.
“This place is a lifesaver. It really is,” said Walker.
“They come through a lot for me and my kids,” said Carter.
If you’d like to help, you can find more information on how and what to donate by visiting the Another Chance of Ohio website.