WADSWORTH — Ericha Fryfogle-Joy doesn't like saying no to the needy folks who come into Marian's Closet.

The nonprofit runs a co-op that offers free clothing, shoes, hats, toiletries, toys, linens and other donated items to its members who pay a nominal $10-a-year fee to belong. Sometimes, though, families just can't find what they really need.

"It's heartbreaking for us to say, 'No, we don't have any new kids' underwear,' " said Fryfogle-Joy, the executive director.

That's why Marian's Closet, which was founded in 2007, is launching its inaugural fundraising campaign. The effort kicks off Tuesday as part of the national "Giving Tuesday" movement and runs through the end of the year.

The goal is to have 500 people agree to donate $30 a year. The extra money will help the nonprofit with its rent and utilities and free up money to purchase much-needed items such as new socks, underwear, diapers and wipes.

The nonprofit hosts an annual golf outing to raise money but that's not enough to keep up with a 26 percent surge in the number of families served this year. Much of that increase is coming from Akron and Barberton. The co-op serves people from as far away as Cleveland.

Marian's Closet, 154 East St., has more than 6,000 member families. Fryfogle-Joy, who's also co-founder of the Wadsworth Brewing Co., estimated that about 4,800 families have shopped at the store this year.

While the items are free, the nonprofit keeps track of what people take. At this time of year, families even come to the store to do their Christmas shopping.

Marian's Closet is set up like a mini-department store with sections for different items. In addition to the clothing, there are books, compact discs, housewares, small furnishings and appliances, and even bicycles.

The nonprofit relies on donations — both financial and for the physical items. Each month, volunteers sort through between 10,000 and 12,000 gently used and new donated items.

"For a small place that's 95 percent volunteer run, we have a huge, huge impact on people's lives," Fryfogle-Joy said.

Justin Collins and his girlfriend Jamie Krosnick of Barberton said they appreciate the mission.

"To me, it's helping the community," Collins said as he shopped last week. "Helping everybody. All races. All genders. Giving people hope. Letting them know that there's somebody who actually cares and is willing to help you."

Debra Ries of Wadsworth, who shops at the store every few weeks, agreed.

"I think it's fantastic," she said. "There are so many people in need. They are friendly and nice."

Volunteer Mary Alice Mantz, who carries the title of operations director, has worked at Marian's Closet since the beginning.

"I just have a passion to help," she said. "It's just a blessing to be able to help in some small way."

Marian's Closet is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, and 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday.

 

Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or rarmon@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @armonrickABJ.