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Tarentum church sells and donates gently used items as part of ministry

| Monday, Nov. 25, 2013, 12:32 a.m.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Mackenzie Fuller, 8, of Tarentum, looks through clothes available at the Central Presbyterian Church in Tarentum on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013. The church's clothing closet is open each Saturday in the basement of the church at 305 Allegheny St. The closet is part of the congregation's community outreach.

About a dozen shoppers eyed the clothing racks in the basement of the Central Presbyterian Church as Tarentum's Christmas parade was about to start a few streets away on Saturday.

That brought smiles to clothing closet coordinator David Rankin and other volunteers.

The church — founded in 1888 and now in a well-kept 100-year-old building — sells gently used clothing and shoes for men, women and children at reasonable prices and donates items to people who need a hand.

At times, the Alle-Kiski Area HOPE Center gives vouchers to some of the women and children who stay in the center's shelter so they can search for clothing in the church's basement fellowship hall.

The clothing closet is a ministry based on hope and caring, trust and prayer. And love, volunteers agreed.

“We have some volunteers who come in to help, and they aren't even members here,” Rankin said.

On Saturday, five families and a handful of individuals took part in a fried fish dinner and then wandered in the fellowship hall and a smaller room at the rear to look at the clothing.

Shopper Abby Moore, a resident of Cherry Blossom Assisted Living in Tarentum, was enthralled.

“I'm so glad. I'm here to get winter clothes,” she said, pausing to look at the selection.

Rankin said the clothes closet started slowly after donations to the congregation's fall harvest festival about four years ago.

“We're at a crossroads here. People may not be members, but they live and come and go all around us and some need our help,” he said.

“We never know how many we'll have for the clothing closet. Sometimes it's six. Sometimes 16,” Rankin said.

The closet once occupied only some tables at the rear of the fellowship hall. On Saturday, there was room for some dinner tables and little else due to the amount of clothing, some of which was new and still adorned by sales tags.

Many clothing fixtures were purchased from closing stores in Tarentum and Cranberry.

More than a half-dozen wooden clothing racks were handcrafted and stained by volunteers who understood the need to help others.

The Rev. Robert Dayton watched the shoppers and volunteers. Then he smiled.

The “retired” pastor, who has been in Central's pulpit about six months, said the outreach of the small congregation is considerable.

Sunday's bulletin includes hours for the Holy Smokes Cafe food ministry, several Alcohol Anonymous meetings, senior citizen line dancing and a free Thanksgiving dinner for the community this Thursday.

Each month, the congregation collects new children's undergarments and socks for the clothing closet.

At Holy Smokes Cafe, people are encouraged to attend worship services upstairs but some chose to stay downstairs to talk and enjoy the reduced price meals, said cook and co-owner Scott Mishler of Cheswick.

Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or

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