MECHANICSBURG — A campaign by New Digs Ministries, “The Best Valentine’s Day Ever,” asks community members to donate their time and give from the heart throughout February.

The local charity, located at 5 Pleasant View Drive, Mechanicsburg, is hoping to add more volunteers in anticipation of expanding their services from three days a week to five.

“We’re only here Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, and it’s becoming quite clear we are going to have to expand our hours. If we open up two more days, we’re going to need quite a few more volunteers,” said founder Ginny Jones. “It’s the same way with picking up stuff, people want to donate, but they can’t bring it, so we need people who can operate the truck to bring the items in.”

“There’s a lot of room here for volunteers,” Jones added.

She said New Digs provides nearly $680,000 worth of household goods to more than 2,700 people yearly. All goods donated by the community, local businesses and hotels are cleaned by volunteers before being put in storage for later distribution.

“We are doing really well with donations, I think we are well enough now that a lot of people are helping in that regard, but of course, the more help we get the more people we can serve,” said Gigi Jantos, outreach coordinator. “I want to focus on our needs for volunteers and cash donations. If you’ve got stuff you can donate, donate it. But what about your time?”

Jones started New Digs almost on accident in January of 2007, after her daughter — who is diagnosed with autism — moved into a supported-living apartment, and Jones realized the difficulty of trying to furnish a home, buy food and pay rent with a reduced income.

By picking up items she saw on the street, cleaning them and storing them in her home, Jones began assisting individuals, including her daughter, with home furnishings. A friend saw the need for the service Jones was providing and arranged for a space to be made available to her at the warehouse in Mission Central.

“Originally they gave us 10 pallets, now we’re up to 5,000 square feet,” Jones said. “We just do one step at a time, and I’ve seen expansion at least once a year in the last seven years.”

Laura Watt, who came into New Digs on Monday morning looking for a bed after losing her furnishings to a mold issue at her previous residence, said “whatever we get, we’ll appreciate it.”

The “we,” being her three grandchildren of whom she recently had gained custody.

“I went to Goodwill and they didn’t have any beds, so were still without a bed,” Watt said. “I got them, and I’m on Social Security, so that makes it hard, and I’ve never been married, so it’s hard for me to make it.”

“We’re real down and out, but if we get a bed, at least we can sleep,” Watt added. “I’m going to make it, I’m not giving up.”

Watt left New Digs with a new mattress and bed settings, as well as other household items.

“That’s one of the things that the volunteers here speak of over and over, people come in the door one way, and when they get some of the things they need to make their lives livable, a bed, I mean a bed, a basic thing — they leave here with hope,” Jantos said.

Information on volunteering at New Digs information is available at newdigsministry.org/volunteer.

Email Tyler Miles at tmiles@cumberlink.com

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