By jeanne starmack
Sherry Swetz walked purposefully across the parking lot toward a small, unassuming block building at 586 Syme St. in Masury.
“We have so much to give away today!” said Swetz, who is director of Joshua’s Haven City Mission in Sharon, Pa.
“I was just telling the neighbors,” she continued.
She went inside.
“We have so much bread,” she said, pointing to a table where loaves from Combine Brothers restaurant in Hermitage, Pa., and Panera Bread were offered for donations.
Someone also had brought in packages of hot dog buns left over from a picnic — along with the hot dogs themselves.
“Someone gave us some corn and some hot dogs, and we don’t have that every week, but we are blessed,” Swetz said.
What the building does have, every Monday from 9 to 11 a.m., is a bread giveaway along with free vegetables from the community garden on the property. It also houses a yard sale that raises money for the bread program. Having opened in June 2011, it is a branch of the downtown Sharon mission that’s meant to serve the nearby Masury and Brookfield neighborhoods.
“People can shop, which helps us raise money to fix up the building,” she said. “Then, they can have free food.”
“This is a feeding and outreach center,” she continued. “When we first got it, it needed a lot of work. It’s my hope to convert part of the building back into a kitchen.”
The building and the downtown mission are run on private donations, she said. She relies on a core group of volunteers that include her mother, Mary Masotto, Willie Gerthung of Masury, Regina Smith of Sharon and Joyce Meszaros of Masury.
Meszaros, who also volunteers at the downtown site, “was our first shopper,” Swetz said, “then we found out she could come and help.”
Smith said she met Swetz when she was just starting Joshua’s Haven, then found out she needed volunteers.
“Missions are my thing,” she said, adding that Swetz “has a heart for this.”
“You don’t see her pulling her hair to do things — for Sherry, it’s all nothing but God,” Smith said.
Around them, shoppers were taking advantage of the yard sale offerings. Rows of tables were crammed with items that included toys, dishes, glasses, coffee mugs, knickknacks, blankets, pictures, books, a television, bikes, Christmas decorations, candles, throw pillows, pottery and some furniture items — everything but clothes.
Swetz said she does not have room for clothes, and will not accept donations of them.
“It’s nice they’re doing this,” said Gloria Matthews of Masury. She was shopping with her son, Brian. “We’ll get a little bit of everything.”
Swetz said the yard sale will continue until it gets cold — there’s no heat yet in the building. But the bread program will continue downtown, she said. Bread giveaways at the city mission, 205 Bank Place, are Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m.
Swetz said the mission is always looking for volunteers, especially if they have a skill, to paint and help with building remodeling and repairs.