CHARLESTON -- The Standing Stone Community Center moved most of its operations to its Carpenter’s Table Food Pantry location at 375 14th St. in mid-October.
This combined the clothing, food pantry and furniture services offered by both entities under the same roof. And since, the number of those being served by the Standing Stone ministry has grown dramatically, Dawn Thomson, Standing Stone executive director, pointed out.
Last summer, Standing Stone was serving approximately 6,000 people a year through its five-item program where individuals can come in and get five clothing items every 30 days. Now, the not-for-profit is serving roughly 8,000 a year.
It could be said that the drop in temperatures and continued local economic status are to blame for the growing need in what Standing Stone offers, but Thomson attributed some of the growth to their latest move, which was the goal for her.
Thomson said they wanted to move to their clothing operations to the food pantry building when they noticed that some clients that were coming to Carpenter's Table and not Standing Stone.
“We felt we were missing a lot of folks going to one place or the other even though they are only seven blocks apart,” Thomson said.
Thomson said most of those who use the service are walking, so some had to make a choice between food and clothes.
“It was difficult to walk and get clothes as well as food at one time. If they had to pick, they took the food over the clothing,” she said. “(The move) has made it a lot easier for folks to do both at one time.”
It was also about fulfilling the ministry's goals for Thomson. The goal of the ministry is to fulfill unmet needs, and there was concern that people in need were not getting the chance to access both services.
“Typically if people can't afford a lot of clothing, they cant afford a lot of food either,” Thomson noted.
The limited space in the building has changed the focus slightly for Standing Stone as well. It exclusively housed the Carpenter’s Table, however, the addition of the clothing required them to limit the furniture offered to essentials. This nixed the knick-knacks that Carpenter’s Table used to carry.
The move also bred a need for guidelines for donating.
At the start of the year, Standing Stone started implementing changes to how they handle donations, which are still collected and housed in the previous Standing Stone location at 201 N. Sixth St.
Standing Stone set a list of guidelines that include preferences for the center including separating clothing from other items, removing hangers, washing clothes and cleaning shoes intended for donation, removing stickers and separating clothes from rags, which would include stained and torn clothes.
The guidelines also suggest winter and summer clothes be separated and that they come in boxes.
These guidelines set a list of items that would not be accepted as well. It lists knick-knacks, baby beds, car seats, computers over four years old, non-flat screen TVs, broken electronics, furniture, dishes and toys, building supplies, magazines, tires and large appliances as items that are not accepted for donation.
Thomson said the move has made the management of the ministry more time intensive than it already was and they needed to set rules to cut down on that time for staff. Because of the labor required to sift through donations, Thomson said they also plan to not accept donations during the first full week of every month starting in February.
Donations are accepted from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. The store and food pantry open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.