By Brenda Waters

BRADDOCK, Pa. (KDKA) – What a tremendous turnout for the seventh birthday party in the heart of Braddock for The Free Store.

What this party represents is a place of hope, not only for this community but surrounding areas as well.

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Helen McCombs says she was once homeless and is still struggling.

“I’ve been coming here to the Free Store since it opened 7 years ago,” she told KDKA’s Brenda Waters.

Shiane Prunty has seen both sides of the store: “I came down here and I was a shopper at one point in time and then I became a volunteer.”

The stories are as moving as The Free Store itself in Braddock, set up 7 years ago to help residents.

It was founded by Gisele Fetterman, the wife of the Lieutenant Governor and former mayor of Braddock.

“It’s been amazing, it’s been an amazing seven years. And here, no one knows who is a shopper, who is a donor, who is a volunteer. We are all the same because no money is being exchanged,” Fetterman said.

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Inside, the brightly painted shipping container holds the hopes and dreams of folks who have fallen on hard times, and there is no limit as to how many times you can come here for everything you need from food to clothing to household items.

The Free Store is filled with things most of us take for granted. Some of the items are donated — others are brand new.

“We have no residency requirements. When we are open, we serve about 100 folks an hour that come from all over the county. We even have some Westmoreland County folks that come out and shop here,” said Fetterman.

Beth Curran works for the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, serving families in early Head Start and Head Start preschool.

“The Free Store has been the best resource for our families in the community. I can’t even say how grateful I am from all of the assistance they have given to our programs and especially our families. They are probably the best example of being a good neighbor in your community and in the Pittsburgh area,” she said.

Seven years of giving back to the community, and still going strong.

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The Free Store is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon.