Volunteers at a Sharpsburg street fair on September 18 help people make tiles for the Second Harvest community thrift store. Photo by TH Carlisle for NEXTpittsburgh.

Second Harvest Community Thrift Store is moving forward with a much-anticipated February 2021 opening — and Covid has only shined a dramatic light on the need for its services.

NEXTpittsburgh wrote about the community thrift store in February, just before the pandemic hit. “Covid has definitely extended our timeline, but it never took our momentum,” says Bonnie DeMotte, the store’s executive director. “We believed this was an important project for the community beforehand, but it has now been made critical in the wake of the economic devastation caused by Covid.”

Their funding efforts to raise $2 million to open the Clay Street enterprise are only short $425,000. Contractors cut out three 14-foot storefront windows recently, the roof was replaced and cement for the ADA ramp was poured last week. Construction will wrap up in three months. Next, they will install store fixtures, hire employees and train volunteers.

Second Harvest will sell clothing, furniture and household goods in a 4,000-square-foot retail shop, and will provide residents with a community gathering space. Advocates pushed to build Second Harvest in response to the 2018 closing of the area’s St. Vincent de Paul thrift store.

Though not open yet, Second Harvest is already making a mark in Sharspburg. The organization hosted a Back-to-School tent sale in the parking lot in August, with 125 volunteers helping more than 500 people go home with clothing.

“I told our board, ‘If we can do that with a parking lot in a pandemic, there’s no telling what we will be able to accomplish when our building is ready!’ DeMotte says.

Next month, Second Harvest will launch its “Bring in the Harvest” appeal to raise the remaining $425,000 to reach its fundraising goal. More than 350 residents have already pledged support, along with representatives from 11 different faith communities and several foundations.

Want to help? Donate here.

Justin Vellucci

A former news reporter for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Asbury Park (N.J.) Press, Justin Vellucci currently freelances for a number of Pittsburgh publications and works as a staff writer for the music...