The back of the shirts worn by CommunityAid employees display is a simple message: “Love one another.”
It’s a mantra the nonprofit thrift store and donation center takes seriously — CommunityAid partners with hundreds of charitable groups and has donated more than $20 million since 2009 to enact positive change in the communities it inhabits.
As of Sept. 8, Berks County is one of those communities.
CommunityAid’s seventh location is now open at 5370 Allentown Pike, Temple.
“Berks County welcomed us with open arms. We love the people and the community in Reading, it just really made sense for us,” said Matt Healy, CommunityAid director of marketing.
He said thousands of shoppers came out to the new store on opening day, which was preceded by a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Photos and video from the opening day show crowds of customers browsing shelves lined with everything from clothes to appliances, decorations, furniture, electronics, and more.
“You never really know what you’re going to find at CommunityAid,” Healy said. “I’ve seen anything from a jacket to a kitchen sink.”
The store strives to offer items at affordable prices, Healy said, and takes affordability a step further by offering discount days once per week, where groups like seniors, EMS, firefighters, police and military personnel, teachers, and students are eligible for a 50% discount.
The discount applies to everything in the store except for the $1 clearance items and items stocked less than a week ago.
Wednesday is the store’s “Family Day,” where everyone is eligible for the 50% discount.
Healy noted that 99% of everything on the sales floor comes through the donation door.
“We’ve seen everything from Gucci glasses to a Target T-shirt,” Healy said. “We’ll accept just about anything, as long as it’s in good enough condition that someone else can use it.”
A full list of donations accepted by CommunityAid, along with items not accepted, is available on the store’s website, communityaid.org.
He said the store also has a few donation bins spread mainly throughout Reading for those who can’t make it to the store.
For those donating items susceptible to the elements, Healy said CommunityAid strongly recommends that donors come to the store.
He said the new store is equipped with a two-lane drive through donation line to ease the process.
“It’s almost like you’re at a restaurant, you pull into a corral, people help get your stuff out, and you’re gone in a matter of minutes,” Healy said.
At the opening event, CommunityAid officials noted that the store’s mission is rooted in Christian faith and values.
“We are committed to showing Christ’s love to one another by serving and supporting everyone we engage with every day,” Yahaira Ocasio-Roman, CommunityAid human resources coordinator, said in a speech at the opening event.
Over 50% of CommunityAid beneficiaries are churches, and the store also supports organizations dedicated to addressing basic needs, including housing, food security, mental health, addiction, veterans aid, children’s services, and more.
Chavah Redmond, CommunityAid vice president of mission impact, noted that the organization recently presented Mary’s Shelter in Reading with a check for more than $20,000.
Mary’s Shelter is one of 500 nonprofits that CommunityAid partners with, about 19 of which are in Berks County, Healy said.
A few of those partners include Bethany Christian Services, Midwest Food Bank, Champions for Children, New Hope Ministries, and Project SHARE.
“This is more than a thrift store, it’s a mission,” Andrew Trayer, Reading store manager, said before the Sept. 8 ribbon cutting. “When you donate, you can feel good that your items are getting a second life and encouraging sustainability. When you shop, you can do it with dignity in a clean, well-organized store filled with one-of-a-kind finds. And when you leave our building, know that your actions just had a positive and lasting impact on our neighbors.”
CommunityAid’s Temple location employs 65 people, and the organization employs more than 550 across its seven central Pennsylvania locations, according to Ocasio-Roman.
The store is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. from Monday to Saturday.
Source: Berkshire mont