A couple blocks away from Selby Stadium there’s a store that is, for some, considered to be more than a place to get goods.
The Common Ground Free Store Ministries is a free store, which means everything is completely free of charge for the patrons of the store.
“Our mission statement is to share in God’s gifts with the community,” said Sherri Fitzpatrick, volunteer manager.
“We do this by meeting local need for food, household items, clothing, shoes, toys, etc. to whomever needs it.”
They provide free goods to about 21,000 people in Delaware County, according to Lori Falk, the executive director of the Common Ground Free Store Ministries.
They also served more than 18,000 meals in 2013.
Falk said there is a meal served each day the store is open, and the store is open four days a week.
“We serve 100-125 hot meals every day the store is open, making us the largest free community meal provider in the county,” Fitzpatrick said.
The food is provided by the volunteers and cannot be prepared in the organization’s kitchen, so the meals are considered to be “a community potluck,” according to Falk.
“Common Ground Free Store Ministries is a partnership between Delaware County churches, business, civic organizations and caring citizens,” according to the Free Store’s website.
Falk said this organization is faith-based, with over 30 church partners and a synagogue involved.
Falk also said there were over 1,200 volunteers that came through their doors in 2013.
The Free Store gets donations from citizens of Delaware, plus Panera Bread, Kroger Grocery Store and Ohio Wesleyan University.
All the donations are tax deductible, and the organization is a non-profit.
Falk said this free store is the only common ground free store that she knows of.
She said there are other free stores in surrounding counties, but they all cater to different needs.
Some give out mattresses and bedding, while others focus more on home goods.
There are many types of goods that the Free Store gives, ranging from infant clothes to books.
Falk said there is a limit on how many items people can take at one time, and the store has a computer system that tracks the numbers.
Falk also said the average amount people come in to get items is once or twice a year.
According to the February 2014 Ohio Poverty Report, Delaware County was had a poverty rate ranging from 4.7 to 7.9 percent.
According to Fitzpatrick, the Free Store has about 20 families that come regularly to eat that are homeless or what would be considered “transitionally homeless.”
“We have transiently served hundreds more over the life of the Free Store,” Fitzpatrick said.
“They (the homeless) say they come not just because they can get food, but because we are loving and they don’t feel judged,” she added.