‘Small town USA’ leaving big mark in Miami Valley

The Gleaning Place's Evelyn Alder is recognized with being a Dayton Dragons Community All-Star. (Photo by: WDTN/Jake Ryle)

WEST MILTON, Ohio (WDTN) — West Milton is a town with two stoplights. What’s between them is what everyone seems to stop for.

“Small town, USA. That’s what I call it,” Evelyn Alder, a volunteer with the Gleaning Place says.

The Gleaning Place is a retail outlet which provides gently used items to fund 17 non-profit organizations. It’s a cog in the wheel that is New Path, Inc.

Alder says 22 people volunteer their time–completely free–to help around the store.

“Because of my humble beginnings with nothing, you can do whatever you wish to do if you just work at it.”

The story of the Gleaning Place has a humble beginning as well. Alder tells 2 NEWS the idea blossomed from a garage sale to the store they occupy now.

The items, all discounted, have totaled nearly $400,000 toward the mission of New Path. William Lutz, Director of New Path, Inc., says the shop provides a critical backbone for the 17 non-profit organizations.

“If we didn’t have the support of the Gleaning Place, we wouldn’t be able to do nearly as much as we’re able to do, and wouldn’t meet the need for the community we’re here to serve,” Lutz said.

Lutz tells us the Gleaning Place has a direct impact on 20,000 people who visit the food pantry near Ginghamsburg Church.

It’s enough to catch the eye of the Dayton Dragons.

Recently, Alder was nominated to be a Community All-Star by the Dragons for the month of June.

Lindsey Huerter, Senior Marketing Manager with the team, says getting those who like to work behind the scenes–out into the spotlight–can be a challenge.

“I’ve never had to work so hard to convince some of these people to come out to games to be honored for their service.”

The Community All-Star program is geared toward recognizing behind-the-scenes people and groups who go above and beyond in the Miami Valley. Huerter says the special moment happens on the field.

“The fans at Dragons games. Every time they hear those community all star stories,” she added, “It’s probably the most amazing part of those experiences.”

Alder received a signed bat, gift certificate, and an award for the recognition.

The Dragons won that game against Beloit, 9-7.

But beyond the score of the game, what most will take away, is the same love and dedication that came from a woman in ‘Small town USA’.

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