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Hyde Park, Woodlawn, South Shore

South Shore Neighbors Can Get Necessities, Home Goods At Sista Afya’s Free Store Saturday

Organizer DeJada Daily got the idea for the free store at Sista Afya's Juneteenth barbecue, where attendees discussed their mental health struggles and day-to-day needs.

A Sista Afya sign hangs in the window of the mental health center's new offices at 1817 E. 71st St. in South Shore.
Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago
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SOUTH SHORE — South Shore residents can get free clothes, home goods and more at a neighborhood mental health group’s all-day giveaway Saturday.

The “free store” is 11 a.m.-6 p.m. — or until supplies run out — Saturday at Sista Afya Community Mental Wellness, 1817 E. 71st St.

Clothes; hats; shoes; household items, including decorative pillows, coasters and comforters; baby items, including a bassinet and a high chair; and a variety of other items, like journals and backpacks, will be available. There will also be free food and a live DJ set.

“I know everybody doesn’t have money to go shopping for necessities like clothing, shoes and household items, since we’re so focused on surviving,” said DeJada Daily, the free store’s organizer and Sista Afya’s administrative coordinator. “I just like the idea of being here for the community.

“These are items that we all need, and even if it’s not a need, they can beautify their home with these decorative pillows and cool coasters.”

Daily used social media to solicit “everything I could take” from family, friends and neighbors, but she has focused on in-person outreach to draw attention to Saturday’s store, she said.

“I want [the store] to be more for the people in the community [who] most likely don’t have access to a phone or internet to get to Instagram or emails,” Daily said. “I’ve been sharing with local organizations around South Shore, like the Black United Fund … so they can tell their clients about it, because their clients are in the community. It’s been a lot of word of mouth.”

If turnout is high for Saturday’s event, Daily “100 percent” would want to make the free store a regular event, she said.

It would be “a good idea” to build the event into a free space, like the defunct Gorgeous Things Giving Store in Hyde Park, which closed at the start of the pandemic in 2020. But that would require more volunteers and more funding than the free store has access to right now, Daily said.

“I think that if the funds were here — not just at Sista Afya, but in the community — to give away free items that are basic necessities, it would be wonderful,” Daily said. “But I understand that it’s difficult to front one. [Saturday’s giveaway] is the biggest event i’ve ever hosted at Sista Afya, and there’s a lot to do.”

The idea to host a free store was spurred by a Juneteenth barbecue Sista Afya hosted this summer, “which was the first time I immersed myself in the community” since the pandemic began, Daily said.

As neighbors showed up to the barbecue and shared their mental health struggles and day-to-day needs, Daily thought of a college friend who organized South Side free stores and was moved to organize something similar, she said.

“You see there’s an issue in the community and you want to fix it,” she said.

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