Between 400-500 people showed up for items at the annual TGIF event held at the fairgrounds. This was the 19th year for the event. Judy Wells/Paulding County Progress
Between 400-500 people showed up for items at the annual TGIF event held at the fairgrounds. This was the 19th year for the event. Judy Wells/Paulding County Progress
By JUDY WELLS

Feature Writer

PAULDING – When the double doors of the OSU Extension center opened promptly at 9 a.m. on Saturday for the Thank Goodness It’s Free (TGIF) giveaway, a rush of people entered the building. Many of them had been standing in the rain and cold for nearly 24 hours. But everyone had the same goal in mind – to find, bag and take home clothes, shoes, toys and household items for their families.

This was the 19th year for the giveaway, hosted by the Paulding United Methodist Church. Co-chairmen again this year were Vicki Kadesch and Sue Wannemacher, who’ve been in charge for the past several years.

“Things went great!” said Kadesch. “We served between 400-500 people again this year. We gave away tons of clothes, many pairs of shoes, lots of baby items and many small appliances of all kinds. It’s such a rewarding feeling to know that residents or our community take care of each other. To see people who really need these items get them for free is definitely worth all the work we put in during the week. We’re exhausted when it’s over but can’t wait to do it again the next year.”

Volunteers – nearly 100 in all – from the church and the community had spent the week sorting, folding, hanging and arranging the donated items. By Saturday morning, the entire hall was neat as a pin and ready to go.

As each “shopper” entered the building, he or she was given a large black trash bag to hold their finds. Many of them stayed for the entire event, which lasted until noon, filling more than one bag. On Saturday, there were 42 volunteers to help keep things neat and arranged for the shoppers who arrived later.

While most of the items at the giveaway were gently used, monetary donations allowed the co-chairmen to purchase several new items as well. “We bought some new coats for kids, some pots and pans, diapers and other baby items, and underwear and socks,” Wannemacher said. “We were lacking most of those things, so we used our money to buy them.”

One man said he’d been standing in line outside since about midnight.

“I came right after work,” he said. “It was really cold last night, and my clothes are soaked, but I didn’t want to lose my place in line. I found a pair of black shoes, and I’m still looking for some jeans and a few other things I can’t afford to buy, but then I’m going home and get some sleep. Without this giveaway, I’d have to go without these things. I’m really glad they have it.”

When a volunteer handed him a pair of waterproof gloves, he graciously accepted them and thanked her for the find.

“It’s little moments like that which make this whole effort worth it,” Kadesch said. “Sue and I will keep doing it as long as we’re able.”