Every month gently used furniture needlessly ends up in our landfills. Hope Furniture Bank offers an eco-friendly alternative that can increase self-esteem, change a life, help your neighbours in need and enhance a community. Hope Furniture Bank estimates that it collected an average of 6.5 tons per month of furniture and household items in 2010 from its 484 donors and 372 “shelters” were turned into “homes”!
A furniture bank is similar to a food bank, except with basic furniture and household items. Donations of reasonably clean, gently used (but still usable) furniture, bed linens, towels and kitchenware are collected and temporarily stored; then redistributed for a nominal service fee to families and individuals struggling financially to furnish their own homes.
Furniture banks are powerful community collaborators, as they connect furniture donors with those needing furniture assistance, via connection with many other social service and civic organizations in the community. In the process they keep significant quantities of bulk items out of landfills.
Hope Furniture Bank (HFB) is a registered Canadian non-for-profit charity based in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Its mission is “to relieve poverty by providing household furnishings, bedding, mattresses and basic household supplies to persons of low income.” HFB received its charitable status in January, 2008 and is a member agency of the United Way of Niagara Falls and Greater Fort Erie and R.A.V.A. (Regional Association of Volunteer Administrators.).
As a society we tend to assume that if our neighbours have a roof over their head, they have something to put in it. However, life challenges such as loss of a job, homelessness, a death in a family, divorce, domestic violence, mental or physical disease, a disability or even a fire can all lead to severe poverty and the inability to furnish one’s own home. Without community assistance, these circumstances are nearly impossible to change. Several social agencies and shelters throughout the Niagara Region refer their families and individuals in need to HFB to assist them by providing gently used, basic home furnishings, bedding and kitchenware for a nominal fee. Many of these families are starting over with nothing, literally sleeping on the floor. Hope Furniture Bank’s goal is to full-fill this basic need, giving families a “hand up” so individuals can focus on their education, employment and getting their lives back on track. The organization is proudly partnered with 22 “referring” agencies such as Family and Children’s Services, Public Health, Canadian Mental Health, Multicultural groups, Ontario Works, Ontario Disability and Support Program; Shelters for the homeless, victims of domestic violence, unwed moms, adolescents, and the YWCA.
Hope Furniture Bank is an option for seniors downsizing their homes to move into retirement residences; for families wondering what to do with the furnishing and household items from estates or upgrading/ redecorating their homes. Individual household donation pick-ups are scheduled on a for fee basis year round.
Hope Furniture Bank is reaching out to hotels, motels and restaurants, hoping to collaborate with them during their inventory turnovers in order to assist more people in need. The organization is a perfect fit for the Hotels/ Motels Green Key Eco-Rating Program (Solid Waste Management, Community Outreach, Land Use and Environmental Management).
We offer an eco-friendly option to hotels, motels and restaurants when renovating, changing brands or just updating bedding and kitchenware, emptying overstock from storage areas. HFB even accepts well maintained mattresses and box springs (twin, double, queen) for redistribution as long as there are no rips, tears, stains or sagging springs. Donated items are not sold on a restore basis. Referring agencies complete a “wish list” of set basic items (kitchen, living-room, bedroom) with their clients and HFB makes every effort to full-fill the request and deliver the items to the door of the families. Currently one in five families may receive a dresser as stock is always limited. Basic hotel desks and restaurant tables can be given as kitchen tables when none are available. Microwaves and coffee makers are well received by our clients as “bonus items” when HFB has stock to offer the families. Lamps, end tables, coffee tables, cutlery, place settings, drinking glasses are consistently on the” wish lists.”
When hotels renovate and upgrade there is the potential to put hundreds of families into beds that can provide a good night’s sleep, the ability to focus at school and work, the energy to face the new day and any challenges it may hold! In 2010 the Fallsview Casino Resort and the Fallsview Park Plaza donated close to 500 mattress sets to Hope Furniture Bank, helping to provide beds for 372 furniture deliveries! (Fallsview Park Plaza included several hundred sets of comforters and sheet sets.) The organization is in need of another influx of mattress and box spring sets as the stock on hand has dwindled to zero! Beds are the number one requested item on the “wish list” of HFB’s clients and hotel/motel partnerships are essential in meeting the demand. One off donations from the general public are gratefully accepted and encouraged but alone cannot full-fill the need in the Niagara Region. There are consistently 40-50 referrals in the delivery queue waiting for their requests to be filled. Can’t donate those mattresses – then just save the bags from new sets delivered (one end cut open)! It costs HFB $80.00 to bag every 15 mattress sets to protect them until delivery.
A Message to Furniture Suppliers and Retail Outlets
Promote donating gently used home furnishings to organizations such as, Hope Furniture Bank to your clients, save mattress bags for re-use, donate clearance or slightly damaged items. Have bins inside your door to drop off gently used bedding and towels. HFB gratefully acknowledges the donation referrals from Village Furniture, Niagara Falls and Walls Countrywide Furniture, Virgil.
(Note: Televisions, computers, office desks and chairs, large entertainment units, major appliances, decorative items are not collected by Hope Furniture Bank)
Hope Furniture Bank invites corporate sponsors to CHOOSE social responsibility to help the community as well as the environment. It all starts with you!
For information on donating, donation fliers, hosting a drop off event, or corporate sponsorships contact: email@example.com
Written by: Janet Morettie, Volunteer Coordinator, Hope Furniture Bank