Thrift Store, Fashion Retailer Partner to Help Americans

With news of companies slashing jobs everyday, an increasing number of Americans are finding it harder to buy much-needed clothes for their family. To help these struggling Americans, The Salvation Army and Stein Mart are partnering to collect clothing items for the ministry's thrift stores.

For the second consecutive year, Stein Mart stores across the nation will collect gently used clothing items during the "Give and Receive" event from March 5 to 7. During the clothing drive, customers can donate clothing items and receive a coupon for 20 percent off any item at Stein Mart for each donation.

Last year the event collected more than 400,000 pieces of clothing for Salvation Army Thrift and Family Stores.

"During these difficult economic times, the services that The Salvation Army provides our communities have never been more important," said Stein Mart chairman Jay Stein, in a statement. "It's rewarding to see our loyal customers join us in our efforts to support this valued organization during a time of need."

The clothes are especially needed at this time as many Salvation Army Thrift and Family Stores have reported as much as a 20 percent decrease in donations over the past year.

"The economic downturn has meant that people are keeping their gently used items longer so we are seeing fewer donations to our thrift and family stores," said Major George Hood, The Salvation Army's national community relations and development secretary. "This means that we have fewer goods to sell and therefore less funding for our life-changing programs. Stein Mart's support, and that of their shoppers, is vital to our service."

Money made from The Salvation Army thrift stores directly support The Salvation Army's Adult Rehabilitation Centers, where over 340,000 men and women with various problems, ranging from substance abuse to relational conflicts, were helped in 2008 alone.

The Salvation Army is an evangelical ministry that has supported those in need since 1865. Each year, nearly 29 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army through social services such as food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, help for the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children.

About 83 cents of every dollar raised is used to support those services in 5,000 communities nationwide.