MARTINS FERRY - Say what you will about Martins Ferry. It's citizens go out of their way to lend a hand.
In the last year, the Daily Bread Center, a collective of local churches, came together to consolidated their food distribution resources to better serve the community.
Later, the Promised Land Ministry opened its doors further south in town, offering senior citizens a helping hand with medical care and prescription costs.
THE?ANGELS?in Disguise store is having its grand opening Sunday from 2-4 p.m. at 710 Catawba St. in Martins Ferry.
Sunday, a third such operation will open its arms and doors to the public.
An Angels in Disguise branch has been started in town and an open house is scheduled from 2-4 p.m. inside the building at 710 Catawba St.
There will be food, face painting and fun for young and old alike to help celebrate the facility's opening.
But there will also be toys, clothes, houseware items and furniture to be distributed.
In a way, it's similar to a Salvation Army or Goodwill-style thrift store in offering goods to those who need them most.
However, there is one major difference that sets Angels in Disguise apart.
Everything is free. Yes, you read that right. Everything is free.
From a t-shirt to dishes to a couch or electronics.
"Everyone is welcome. Everyone is eligible to receive donations," said Brian Hastings, the owner of the building housing AID along with his wife Beth. "There are no questions asked, no criteria to meet and no identification necessary."
Hastings first learned of the AID ministry through a local native who moved to Columbus and eventually opened the first AID shop in the state's capital.
Jessica Clark-McDowell grew up knowing what it felt like to want. As she grew older, she always wondered why it was so hard for people to get help. She wanted to find a way to ensure no one else had to struggle to get what they needed. She wanted to find a way to pay it forward.
According to Clark-McDowell, when AID first started, the group took whatever money was available and all the donations on hand and loaded it into a truck. They were determined to give away everything by the end of the day.
Eventually the Columbus center was born.
Clark-McDowell paid a visit to the Martins Ferry Christian Church and talked about AID among other topics. The Hastings are members of the MFCC and were moved by power of AID and sought to open such a facility in town.
Hastings owned a building on Catawba St. in which the ground floor was more or less a storage garage. It became the perfect home base for the AID store.
The garage has been refurbished. Shelves and stacking crates and tables have been erected. And numerous donations have been accepted.
Now all AID needs is for people that need the help to come forth and ask.
"If someone in Martins Ferry is without furniture, we want to be able to provide it for them, for free," Hastings said. "Not for $30 per chair, for free."
Moving forward, the store will be open Sundays from 2-4 p.m. Hastings said as more volunteers come forward, they will look to opening an additional day, possibly Saturdays.
For more information on the Angels in Disguise ministry, go to its Web site at www.angelsindisguise.org.
Hughes may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org