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“What on earth is going on? Do you realize you’re on the news and accused of molesting little boys?”

That was a phone call that Philadelphia native Gerald Sterrett received early in the morning when reports of alleged sexual abuse by former Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky reached news outlets on Nov. 5.

It’s an easy mistake to make considering that Sterrett, who goes by Gerry, works at the Second Mile Center, a faith-based charity located at 214 S. 45th St.

When the Second Mile Center was first incorporated in 1982, it applied to be called simply the Second Mile — but that name was already taken by the nonprofit charity Sandusky founded in 1977.

Many made the incorrect connection between the West Philadelphia nonprofit and the completely unrelated one of Sandusky, who was charged with 40 counts of sexual abuse of young boys earlier this month.

“I thought it would just blow over,” Sterrett said, but instead the store received multiple “nasty phone calls,” some from philanthropists indicating they would no longer donate to the center.

“It has just gotten out of hand,” Sterrett added.

The Second Mile Center, which supports itself through sales from its thrift store, hires employees who have spent time in prisons, halfway houses and rehabilitation centers to help them get back on their feet.

Sandusky’s Second Mile, in contrast, serves underprivileged youth.

In an attempt to combat confusion, signs hang from the windows of the Second Mile Center that read: “We are not in any way connected to the Second Mile of the Penn State sex scandal.”

Penn students who have shopped at the Second Mile Center have not made the connection to the Penn State scandal.

Nursing sophomore Megan McMonigle first shopped at the center’s thrift store for clothes she needed for an acting class. “I really liked what I saw,” she said, adding that she was not familiar with Sandusky’s charity.

Sara Hassan, a Nursing sophomore, likes that the center — from where she has purchased furniture and decorations for her apartment — gives people who might not usually be hired “a second chance.”

She did not confuse the thrift store with Sandusky’s charity, but “I can see how people get them mixed up,” she said.

Despite the negative ramifications, the charity, which has been around for almost 30 years, has no plans to change its name, Sterrett said, adding, “I think we’ll win this.”

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