Sue Wannemacher (left) and Vicki Kadesch, co-chairmen of T.G.I.F.  (Thank God It’s Free), have been hard at work preparing for the annual giveaway that helps hundreds of residents with needed items. The event is this Saturday, Dec. 2. Judy Wells/Paulding County Progress
Sue Wannemacher (left) and Vicki Kadesch, co-chairmen of T.G.I.F. (Thank God It’s Free), have been hard at work preparing for the annual giveaway that helps hundreds of residents with needed items. The event is this Saturday, Dec. 2. Judy Wells/Paulding County Progress
By JUDY WELLS

Feature Writer

PAULDING – The 18th annual Thank God Its Free (T.G.I.F.) giveaway will be held this Saturday, Dec. 2 from 9 a.m.-noon at the OSU Extension Building at the Paulding County Fairgrounds. Sponsored by the Paulding United Methodist Church, the giveaway will feature clothes and shoes of all sizes, dishes, kitchen wares, small appliances, bedding, toys, decorations, and much, much more. And it’s all free to county residents who are in need.

When the doors open at 9 a.m., folks from all over the county will rush in to search for the perfect items for themselves or their loved ones. Many of those folks will have been in line since noon on Friday in an attempt to be some of the first through the doors to browse the tables of donated goods.

“They used to start lining up around five o’clock on Friday,” said Vicki Kadesch, one of the co-chairmen of the event. “But last year they started coming even earlier. The first ones got here around noon. We even had to bring in porta-potties for the ones who stayed overnight.”

Co-chairman Sue Wannemacher said on Monday they’re pleased with the donations that have come in so far.

“Right now we have this huge pile of boxes and bags full of things that need to be sorted,” she said. “We have lots of tables set up and by the time we’re finished sorting and folding, every table will be full and there’ll be items stacked up on the floor. As things go off the tables, we’ll put the ones from the floor up on the tables so people can see them better.”

Kadesch explained that the giveaway, which began nearly 20 years ago at the First Presbyterian Church in Paulding, soon outgrew that facility.

“That’s why we moved it out here,” she said. “There’s a lot more room here to set up more tables and to put out more clothes and other items.”

She said last year the giveaway served between 400-500 people, even more than the previous year.

With the monetary donations that were received earlier this year, the chairmen bought what they could locally, then went shopping at Meijer in Defiance.

“We were really impressed with them,” Kadesch said. “When we told them what we were doing and the amount we wanted to spend, they gave us a $400 gift certificate to use for toys and other items in the store. Then they kept a running total for us and kept telling us how much we’d spent and how much more we could spend. They had a special going on at the time, where we could buy one toy at regular price and get one at half-price. They even gave us a 20 percent discount on all the toys.”

The women also purchased hats, gloves, socks and underwear, coats of all sizes, toasters, coffee makers, towels, wash cloths and bedding to be given away.

Wannemacher and Kadesch said they have been receiving donated goods since Monday morning, but that more are needed and welcomed.

“There’s always a need for baby clothes and other baby items,” Wannemacher said. “Those are the things that go first. And we can use all the help we can get with the sorting and organizing.”

Kadesch said that, even though they use community service workers to help with the sorting, there’s also a need for more volunteers. If you would like to help sort, fold or organize the donated items, stop by the Extension Building today, Nov. 29 until 8 p.m. or Thursday from 8 a.m.-3 p.m.

The doors will be locked Thursday afternoon to allow the volunteers time to prepare for the giveaway on Saturday. Call Sue at 419-263-2972 for more information.