Dear Diary, Growing up, my parents taught my sister and I to love our neighbors. I never heard those exact words until I read it in the Bible. Rather, my mother and father demonstrated the meaning of the instruction by committing random acts of kindness. My mother, an avid cook and shopper, delivered dinners, clothes and toys to countless friends and family members. My father shoveled neighbors’ driveways, raked leaves and gave payday loans, always treating the CEO and the custodian exactly the same. Although retired, my father still commits amicable acts, most recently loading his truck with free store donations–picture a consignment store minus the price tags for neighbors in need. Now that I’m a mom, I want to pass my parents’ instructions along to my little girl, who I love to the moon and back. That’s one reason why I decided to open Free Store Penn Hills. Located in the Lincoln Park Community Center, the same place my grandmother and father attended elementary school, the free store aims to address the recent rise in suburban poverty, spread love and empower the community. Fellow founders— Tamara Cox, Janica M. Estes, Jesse Marie Haskins, Deborah McKenzie and Fawn Washington—supported the effort and helped set up the store. We sought to create a space that gave shoppers a sense of dignity and respect. To do so, we teamed up with At Home’s newest store in Pittsburgh located at 3000 McIntyre Square Drive. The 91,000 square-foot retail destination allows customers to affordably turn their house into a home, and the major donation allowed Free Store Penn Hills to create a warm, welcoming space. Fellow Penn Hills alum and HGTV Design Star Finalist Luca Paganico offered his styling expertise. Our theme–love! Highlights of the store include a children’s corner, where kids can attend story time and participate in arts and crafts classes. They can also interact and add their art to the murals painted by local artists JaQuay Walker Taylor and Deborah McKenzie. A resource shelf will be a fixture in Free Store Penn Hills, providing valuable and timely information to the public. Here’s how can your family commit a random act of kindness. Attend the Grand Opening Come out to meet your neighbors this Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Lincoln Park Community Center. Following the dedication ceremony, drop off donations, shop the store or enjoy refreshments provided by The Cupcake Crew and Frankstown Road Giant Eagle. The Consumer Health Coalition and Healthy Together Mascot Enroll-o-bot will be on site to help families enroll in quality, affordable health insurance. Children’s activities include arts & crafts, a face painter and stories–books provided by Reading is Fundamental (RIF). Donate to the Free Store Free Store Penn Hills distributes everything from clothing and books to toys and toiletries. Solicited donations include books, book bags, clothing, diapers, home décor, luggage/purses, school supplies, school uniforms, toiletries, toys and games. Due to safety concerns, we’re unable to accept cribs, car seats, furniture or other items subject to a recall. Personal items, including bedding, pajamas, toiletries and undergarments, must be in new packaging. Grant a Wish On Saturdays, the store will host the Confident Kids Craft Club. We need the community’s support to purchase art supplies. Click here to buy something from our Amazon Wish List. Free Store Penn Hills will also offer interactive and educational workshops for families, such as financial literacy programs and breastfeeding information sessions. Interested facilitators can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Buy a Gift Card The ribbon-cutting ceremony for At Home’s Pittsburgh store will take place Friday, November 18 at 9 a.m. You can add a gift card to your holiday shopping list to donate to Free Store Penn Hills, or pick up one of the 50,000 unique items to make the holidays a bit brighter for a neighbor in need. Click here to check out how we went shopping with families from Free Store Braddock last year! Hey DFTM Fam–How are you committing acts of kindness with your family? Be sure to follow the Free Store Penn Hills and At Home on social media! Tag your photos using #LoveYourNeighbor Thank you to our sponsors and resource partners! Resource partners include Aiu3 Family Support Centers, Allegheny County Library Association, Allegheny Family Network, Consumer Health Coalition, Cribs for Kids, Gems from Joy Ministries, Family Resources, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council, Kidsburgh, PNC Grow Up Great, Pittsburgh Action Against Rape (PAAR), Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children( PAEYC), Reading is Fundamental (RIF), Ready Freddy, University of Pittsburgh’s Office of Child Development, UPMC and more. Additional sponsors include Guardian Storage, the Rug Lab Carpet Cleaning, Simmie’s Restaurant, S-Spa, Swade Welding and the Wheel Mill. Disclosure: At Home sponsored the interior design of Free Store Penn Hills by providing a very generous gift card. Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.