ATLANTA — As millions of Americans struggle to make ends meet this holiday season, Meg Gillentine wanted to help.
For Gillentine, the solution was found right in her own closet.
"Most of us have stuff in our closet and pantry and storage shed that we don't use anymore," Gillentine said. "We don't wear it but we just can't get rid of it. Most of it's really good stuff. My house is full of stuff that rarely sees the light of day. Why do we hang on to these things when so many around us, in our own neighborhoods, are struggling?"
So, she came up with an idea: The Giver's Closet, a 'pay what you can' pop-up shop where proceeds go back to the community. She launched it just in time for the holidays.
Gillentine said the idea came to her after touring the country for the "Souper Jenny Kindness Tour" where she traveled with local restaurant owner Jenny Levison.
"It was a life-changing journey, one that I'm still sorting thru and writing about and learning from. One of my biggest takeaways? I don't need very much to be totally content and happy," Gillentine said. "In fact, I spend way too much time organizing 'the stuff' and the stuff that holds the stuff, and too little time getting out there and experiencing the things that do my heart good. Like spreading some basic human kindness and decency. Like giving to my fellow travelers."
Gillentine said the goal of "The Giver's Closet" will be serving the community, giving everyone the option to donate and/or shop, with 100 percent of proceeds going back to the community. This month's donations are designated for grassroots organization, Free99Fridge.
"If you have money to spend, you might pay the suggested price. Or not," Gillentine said. "If times are tight, but ya need something new? You pay what you can. Don't have any money? No problem, you get it for free."
Gillentine is launching the initiative with 'pop up' shops and sales on Instagram but is already hoping to expand.
"I've got big dreams for this initiative," she said. "It's going to have its very own store one day, and all will be welcome," adding she hopes to secure a food truck or trailer to create a mobile Giver's Closet.
The next pop-up event is schedule for Sunday, Dec. 20 from 12-2pm at Souper Jenny Westside (1082 Huff Rd NW, Atlanta). The event will consist of a grocery bag giveaway thru along with the Giver’s Closet Pop-Up Shop.
Masks are required and social distancing will also be practiced.