County Seat Newspaper
of Clare County

Steetly’s Swap for Smiles


Cleaver Guest Writer

HARRISON – What began as a thoughtful suggestion posted by a member of the Harrison Matters Facebook group has transformed into an outpouring of generosity and cohesion within the Harrison community. On Aug. 13, 2023, a post prompting the idea of a clothing swap to help out parents with growing, school-aged children was made, and members responded to this idea with great enthusiasm.

Tia Grencz-Parent and her friend Kayla Eagle were inspired as the school year neared and they collaborated to get something set up. Grencz-Parent oversees marketing at her parents’ store, Steetly Outlet, and offered the store as a location due to ample space and parking for such a community event. They did some minor advertising and allocated time to spread the word for three weeks prior to a clothing swap event slated for Sept. 9. The goal was for people to bring what no longer fit their children to donate that day, and to take home any articles of clothing that could be used in return. The response was tremendous, and the duo was absolutely astounded by the heartfelt donations that poured in prior to the date of the clothing swap.

“I don’t think any of us expected as many people to bring in donations as had come in,” Grencz-Parent recounted. “So, we were originally going to do it once or twice a year, spring and fall. Originally it was just for school and for kids, but everybody kept wanting to donate more.”

With the outpouring of support and bigheartedness from the community, the operation quickly grew in magnitude. They had so many donations that continued to arrive even after the original event, the free clothing exchange event was held for two additional consecutive weekends. They received men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing sized for newborns all the way to 5XL. Although the event remained primarily geared towards school-aged children, due to the generosity and quantity of clothing that came in, it was ultimately extended to anyone and everyone.

The free clothing event gained momentum as awareness spread, and donations continued to surge in. Other enthusiastic volunteers, including Rae Cameron, came in to donate, assist in organizing clothing for future weekends, and spread the word in the community about the continuation of the clothing swaps.

“I don’t have any problem taking them as long as they fit where I can store them,” Grencz-Parent noted about clothing donations. “As long as I have room to store it, anytime the store is open we are open to taking donations.”

With the tremendous success of the clothing swap, and as the holiday season quickly approached, a last-minute spark of inspiration to host a similar set-up with a toy drive came to fruition.

“That was in part, too, I guess a lot of the donations that were going on you had to travel to Mount Pleasant for toy pick-up, and there weren’t a lot of places inside of Harrison itself, so I knew there were some people struggling to get to places that were doing other drives,” Grencz-Parent noted.

With this need noted within the community, the volunteer group set to work with the help of many local businesses to advertise and collect both new and gently used toys for donation. Once again, the amount of toy donations received and interest within the community became unequivocal in the two short weeks the event was advertised.

“There were people who were here like three hours early to stand in line,” Grencz-Parent described the unexpected sight as she pulled into the parking lot on the morning of Dec. 17 for the toy drive event. “People were trading stuff amongst each other, and giving up things for other people. There was no arguing. I really didn’t expect the turnout we got because we did it such short notice. And I really didn’t put a ton into advertising, but we figured you know if it helped anybody, you know, that’s a good start.”

Grencz-Parent and the volunteer group currently have plans to organize a toy drive of the same essence this year to provide continued support that is accessible directly in the Harrison community.

As long as donations continue to come in, clothing will remain available to the community the first and third weekends of each month. There are no stringent requirements for those interested in participating. It is simply bring in what you no longer need, take home what you do need. Reminder posts are made prior to each event on the Steetly Outlet Facebook page, and Grencz-Parent has also created a Facebook group sweetly named Swap for Smiles where event dates, updates, or any potential cancellations or postponements will be posted. Plans for a 2024 toy drive will also be noted on those two pages.

As colder weather has moved in for the winter, the clothing swap has moved indoors from the Steetly parking lot located at 4060 Industrial Parkway in Harrison. All donated clothing items will be set up for the community the first and third weekends of each month, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and will be accessible inside Steetly Outlet via the building’s south entrance. Anyone interested in donating items can bring them to Steetly Outlet during their regular business hours of 10 a.m. .to 5 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Saturday. Grencz-Parent notes that they do appreciate community members interested in donating larger items or loads of clothing reaching out to the store prior to dropping off to ensure they have the space and capacity to store the items. Inquiries can be made by calling the store at 989-630-0553 or via Facebook Messenger.

© Clare County Cleaver


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