Montgomery County charity gives people in need their own personal shoppers

"This started in my garage and I didn't really think I was starting a charity," said Mitzvah Circle founder Fran Held.
WEST NORRITON TOWNSHIP, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- A Montgomery County charity is collecting tens of thousands of items for community members in need, and they're doing it all in the spirit of committing acts of kindness.

Inside the 9,000-square-foot warehouse that's home to "Mitzvah Circle," there are sweaters, sneakers, and blankets, sitting in boxes that nearly touch the ceiling.

Each item is hand-picked by a personal shopper for someone in need.

"This started in my garage and I didn't really think I was starting a charity, I thought I was helping one family who had a mom who had cancer," said Fran Held, who founded the charity 13 years ago.

"'Mitzvah Circle' means a circle of kindness, and I think it's really important that people understand there are many acts of kindness that don't need to be repaid," she said.

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Even when the pandemic hit and employment opportunities were scarce, Variety put 25 students in the workforce in 2020.

In 2020, the year the world stopped for the pandemic, Fran didn't. She opened a new warehouse and served 97,000 people, which included donating 2 million diapers.

"We know that babysitting in a dirty diaper is more likely to have health consequences," she said.
After the care packages are made, they're sent out into the community. Volunteers either hand-deliver goods in Montgomery County or one of the 150 community partners picks them up.

"In Montgomery County, people are shocked when I say we're delivering to Ardmore, to Bryn Mawr, to Blue Bell. Those are places that people do not think of as areas of need," said Held.

Through her work, Held has realized there's a need everywhere you look and she wants to be a helper.

"We believe that creating a better world starts with helping the person who is standing in front of you who's suffering," she said.

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