"Before purchasing the Tamaqua Community Center, we were running out of room to store all the larger-sized donations we received," said Lori Miller, assistant director of Carbon and Schuylkill L.I.F.E. Programs, Access Services.

"We had to store donations under tents and in the back of a tractor trailer in the back of our property."

After purchasing the Tamaqua Community Center, aka Mohn Building, on Jan. 1, volunteers, clients and staff with Access Services, have been spending time moving hundreds of donations from their outside storage into the 6,500-square-foot center, located adjacent to the store. The building will be used by Access Services, new owners, as an expansion to their Center Street store to sell appliances, furniture and all other larger items.

Access Services, a nonprofit organization since 1978 and longtime staple in Tamaqua, has operated a thrift store in town for a number of years. In 2009, desperately struggling for space, it moved its West Broad Street store into the old PA CareerLink office, 217 South Center St., where it is now known as Life's Second Hand Treasures Thrift Store.

Access Services currently provides support services to over 2,800 clients of all ages in Schuylkill/Carbon/Berks, Lehigh Valley and Delaware Valley regions, to include operating L.I.F.E. centers in Tamaqua, Orwigsburg and Lehighton. Access Services L.I.F.E. center is located at 523 Schuylkill Ave. in Tamaqua.

For over 30 years, Access Services has been developing innovative ways to provide support services for individuals with special needs in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Today, it is a large nonprofit organization with staff members operating in more than 10 counties including Berks, Bucks, Carbon-Monroe-Pike, Chester, Delaware, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia and Schuylkill.

"All the clients can volunteer as much as they want," added Miller. "The experience offers clients an opportunity to participate in a real work-force environment."

She added that Tamaqua's L.I.F.E. participants have received volunteer awards and accolades from borough officials, Meals on Wheels officials, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and other community agencies.

L.I.F.E., Learning In a Functional Environment, is a publicly-funded service that helps integrate adults with developmental disabilities into their respective communities by providing organized group recreational activities, skills training, community volunteer projects, day trips and so on.

One of the primary objectives for L.I.F.E. participants is to contribute and assist senior citizens and youth by delivering meals and improving the appearance of local community playgrounds and parks," said Miller. "To the participants it has become almost a crusade and they have such pride in the contributions they make to the community."

Access Services accepts donations for the thrift shop daily and is able to provide tax return receipts upon request. The store's hours are Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Staff members pointed out that they also do house cleanouts and will pickup larger donations. The store's phone number is (570) 225-7116.

For more information on Access Services, visit its website at www.accessservices.org