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Youngstown Clothing Co. uses 'Heart' to benefit Second Harvest Food Bank

The phrase “The city with heart in the heart of it all! Youngstown Ohio” is printed on the grey shirt in red and black. The proceeds of one $20 shirt can provide a week's worth of food for a family of three.

[EDITOR'S NOTE — Each week, this feature section, “Movers and Makers,” will feature the stories of the movers, launchers, entrepreneurs and makers who contribute to the vitality of the Mahoning Valley. This section is supported by our first community partner, Farmers National Bank.]

YOUNGSTOWN — Youngstown Clothing Co. owner Matt McClure truly believes, “Youngstown takes care of Youngstown.” 

And the Mahoning Valley-based clothing company’s newest shirt reflects that ideology. 

One hundred percent of the proceeds of Youngstown Clothing Co.’s new "City With Heart" shirt will go to Second Harvest Food Bank of Mahoning Valley. Funds from one shirt can provide a week's worth of food for a family of three. 

The phrase “The city with heart in the heart of it all! Youngstown Ohio” is printed on a gray shirt in red and black. It costs $20.

During the initial weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, Youngstown Clothing Co. closed its storefront inside the Southern Park Mall, halted online production and laid off its team of six part-time employees. The company planned to lay low until the government-mandated orders were lifted. 

"We originally planned on not shipping orders until the stay at home [order] was lifted. But, we had always known that we wanted to do something to help the community,” McClure said. 

He was inspired to raise money for Second Harvest after witnessing the community impact the organization had while recently distributing food at the Canfield Fairgrounds. 

"There were a lot of people that came and it just kind of opened our eyes to, yes, there are definitely people in need right now and we wanted to do what we could to help,” McClure said. 

"Once we realized that we were able to get this [new shirt] into production and work with the Second Harvest Food Bank, that was kind of what got us to get over our fear of just staying completely isolated and to kind of get back at it,” he said.

Michael Iberis, Executive Director of Second Harvest, said he’s grateful Youngstown Clothing Co. chose the food bank to be the beneficiary of the project. 

"For every dollar that is donated to us, we can provide food for six meals to the people that are coming to our pantries,” he said. “We just greatly appreciate all the efforts of the Youngstown Clothing Co. in this mission and to be able to feed the hungry people in the Mahoning Valley.” 

According to Iberis, food lines at Second Harvest have nearly tripled in size since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, serving nearly 18,000 people a week. 
In 2019, Second Harvest set a record 11.5 million pounds of food distributed. But, the organization is expected to surpass that record with a 40 percent increase of people visiting the pantry in 2020. 

Iberis said Second Harvest has also noticed an increase in donations during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"I believe that it's a result of people having compassion to be able to help their friends, neighbors that might be struggling,” he said. 

In addition to the “City With Heart” initiative, Youngstown Clothing Co. has strived to connect local businesses to the community with sales and gift card giveaways — including the ‘Youngstown Clothing Co. Stimulus Package’ gift cards. 

Community members can enter to win a $50 gift card that can be used at 20 local businesses, such as Orange Avocado Juicery, Magic Tree Pub and Eatery and Nova Coffee Co. Twenty winners will be selected from Facebook and Instagram. 

"That's what it's always been about for us is local...supporting local, keeping it local, repping our city — things like that,” McClure said. 

The giveaway is open for entry until “things are back to normal” according to Youngstown Clothing Co.’s Instagram. 

"With the talk of the national stimulus package and things like that, we just thought to ourselves, ‘let's do a little something to kind of help reassure people … to let them know that this is going to end and we are going to get things back to normal and we're going to come back stronger than ever from it,’” McClure said. 

According to McClure, the Youngstown Clothing Co. team has used the pandemic to work on new designs and hopes to reopen the store on May 12th. 

"We're hoping to open our store with the necessary precautions and guidelines. What we need to do to keep everybody, customers and staff safe...we're gonna start working to do that,” he said. 

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