Re-use Tip: Giving Your Furniture A New Home

Written by guest blogger Denise Deby, who has worked in international and community development, and is currently trying to figure out how to connect the local with the global in her everyday life.


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Sometimes I like to think that one or two individuals can start something that will make a positive difference. Recently, I had the good fortune to meet some people who have done exactly that. Two women in Ottawa, Nathalie Maione and Buffey Cassidy, with the help of some enthusiastic volunteers, have formed a non-profit organization called Helping With Furniture (www.helpingwithfurniture.org).

Helping With Furniture’s approach is straightforward: collect good quality used furniture and household items from people who no longer need them, and deliver them to people who can use them. Once a week, Helping With Furniture volunteers pick up “gently used” items and drop them off at the homes of refugee claimants. Items which might have ended up in the landfill or unused are instead helping families who would otherwise have very little to start their homes.

Since its first delivery in November 2005, Helping with Furniture has assisted well over 200 households, with families coming from some 40 countries, among them Afghanistan, Burundi, Congo, Colombia, Haiti, and Nigeria (to name a few). Helping With Furniture provides a welcome as well as some basics such as beds, tables, chairs, and kitchen supplies. Helping With Furniture’s founders estimate that they recycle an average 1000 cf of furniture a year.

For me, finding a good home for a few treasured items that have been collecting dust in my basement – a rocking chair, a mattress that my children have outgrown, a handmade blanket, an extra lamp – was easy. I filled in Helping With Furniture’s on-line donation form that outlines what types of things they’re looking for. I received a prompt and friendly reply. On a recent Wednesday evening, Helping With Furniture’s volunteers arrived with a bright yellow moving van and loaded everything for transfer to temporary storage and on to new owners.

I was struck by the strong sense of purpose that motivates Nathalie Maione and Buffey Cassidy, by their commitment to addressing poverty and the environment. A growing demand has prompted them to expand the service provided by Helping With Furniture, which amazingly they run in addition to their jobs and families. For more information or to donate items, check out www.helpingwithfurniture.org.

Other organizations in Ottawa which accept donations of used household items are listed on the City of Ottawa’s Take It Back site (www.ottawa.ca/takeitback/).

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18 thoughts on “Re-use Tip: Giving Your Furniture A New Home

  • Hello,

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    I found your site through a search and decided to contact you because of its high environmental and green presence which is extremely important in our movement. Your viewers are extremely savvy and motivated. The promotion of how buildings should now be built using green products to avoid asbestos and mesothelioma as well as the awareness of past buildings and preventative steps in avoiding asbestos exposure are extremely important. My goal is to get a resource link on your site/blog or even to provide a guest posting to be placed.

    I look forward to hearing from you. Please feel free to check out our website at http://www.maacenter.org. Thank you for your time and consideration.

    Bill

  • Putting aside Bill’Off Topic’ Hawthorne, I have to report a second attempt at contacting helpingwithfurniture coming to nothing. The first time, we had to pay somebody $65 to cart away our furniture. Helpingwithfurniture is a great idea, but under-staffed and probably under-funded

  • I take back my June 9th whine! Last evening, July 8th, Nathalie and four or five helpers took away all our surplus furniture in a big Penske van. My 50 year old desk has gone to a 5 year old boy with artistic ambitions

  • We have a set of sofas. Four pieces. The wooden frame is fine. The cushions would need to be recovered. WOuld you pick them up if we want to donate them.

  • Boy, are you wrong! i am having trouble donating good furniture (leather loveseat, small bureau and handmade small wooden chest) to Salvation Army, Diabetes Assoc. and others. No one wants to make the effort to pick up the furniture, so now what do I do? I’m either not giving the “right” stuff or I live in the “wrong” part of town–I’m disgusted–will never donate or give to charities again! A pox on them all.

    • i have a bedroom set to donate, but it appears the only charity that needs it does not come to this end of the city (Kanata). the charity i refer to is the one for refugees. I do not have the transport to move it or the man power to move it. Obviously the need for this type of donation is not as urgent as one is led to believe.

      When I search for other charities who may be interested i come up nil!
      I agree with PJ Leo
      I guess I will hire “GOT JUNK” to remove a triple white wedwood dresser with triple mirror, large armoire and 2 end tables as well as a mahogany cane headboard.

  • Shame on anyone making such despicable comments about charities like this working to help others be self-sufficient and make a contribution to our society. You really have no idea how these organizations work or struggle to make a difference in the community. These are not public services for anyone to take advantage of to help you clean out your house. They serve the recipients not you. They are manned by good people who work on their own spare time and take nothing in return. There is no government funding or an army of paid staff. Do your homework and learn a little more about what these organizations are really all about. If you really want to contribute to your community and have some sense of social responsibility, donate by borrowing a truck and drop off your furniture if you are out of the pick up zone. These small orgs don’t always have the resources to travel all over the city so it’s really matter of practical management until they grow large enough to increase their territory.

  • There are always a host of Women’s Shelters with women and children fleeing abusive situations who are always in need of daily items as well as other items to start their new lives or furnish the shelters. These Shelters have ‘wish lists’ which are posted on their websites. Consider these worthy donations going to women and children escaping bad situations.

  • We have good living room furniture to donate. A hide a bed and 2 chairs. This has to be gone by May 13 or 14 at the latest.

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