ReStore donations aid Habitat

PARKERSBURG – Donations to the Wood County Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore in Parkersburg have both helped residents and fund local Habitat projects.

ReStore, 1448 Seventh St., has been in its present location for almost four years, doing a good business and has become an important part of Habitat’s profile in the community.

People regularly bring in all kinds of donations.

“We love to have use appliances that work, used furniture, building materials and so on,” said Greg Halterman, the ReStore manager. “Basically we take everything, except clothing. We have taken pool tables, air hockey games, anything we can sell and make some money off of.”

They don’t have the room to deal with clothing. Any clothing they get, they take to another local charity.

“If we do get it, it doesn’t get thrown out,” Halterman said.

ReStore has received mulch, playsand and potting soil from Wal-Mart. A local apartment complex was renovating and donated the old kitchen cabinets and used refrigerators.

“We have gotten some nice donations lately, and we hope that keeps up,” Halterman said.

One person donated a cabinet he made. Another donated an 1863 Steinway piano made from a Brazilian Rosewood that needs a little work but would be a nice piece if someone wants to restore it, Halterman said.

Sales from the ReStore help Habitat build homes around the community.

Habitat uses volunteer labor, donations and donated materials and land to keep homes affordable for those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to own their own homes through conventional means.

Homebuyers are required to attend homebuyer education classes and complete “sweat equity” hours in working on local Habitat projects as well as their own.

The homeowners pay a zero percent interest mortgage to buy the house from Habitat.

“We are a Christian organization and our goal is help people get out of substandard housing and into quality homes,” Halterman said. “The money we make here goes toward building new homes.”

Alvin Phillips, executive director of Wood County Habitat for Humanity, said proceeds from the ReStore help build half a house each year. For the four years they have been in place, they have built the equivalent of two houses from what they make from the ReStore.

“We are hoping that will increase,” Phillips said.

In addition to raising financial assistance for projects, its location on Seventh Street has raised the organization’s profile in the community. They had a location on Elder Street for a few years, but it was small.

The location on Seventh Street has increased their available space and the organization’s visibility.

“More people know about Habitat and what we do,” Phillips said.

Halterman said the move to Seventh Street in 2009 has brought in more customer traffic.

“Our sales have quadrupled,” he said.

Wednesdays are usually busy as donation pickups are done Monday and Tuesdays and the store tries to get those items on the floor by Wednesday.

“We probably have a couple hundred people in here on Wednesdays,” Halterman said. “They are waiting at the door when we open.

“The rest of the week, I would say we average 75-100 people a day coming in.”

Donations like couches are cleaned before going on the floor. Other repairs also may be need.

Refrigerators are cleaned and plugged in for 24 hours to make sure they are in working order.

“Everything we pick up on Monday and Tuesday, we try to have out on the floor by that Wednesday,” Halterman said.

A special four-year anniversary sale will be held in November where everything will be 20 percent off. This year, they will close a week early and remodel the store.

Many customers are on limited budgets and are able to find many things to remodel and fix up their own homes for a lot less than they would find at a retailer.

“We have had people who have been remodeling their homes for two to three years solely from stuff they have gotten here,” Halterman said. “They are proud and it makes us proud to see what we have helped people do.”

There is a “green effect” for people to donate to the ReStore.

“For every dollar we sell out of this store, the EPA estimates that is 1 pound that does not go into a landfill,” Halterman said. “If we do $100 for a couch, that saves 100 pounds from going to a landfill.”

People can drop off donations throughout the week. People can get credit on their taxes with donations.

“This is a good program,” Halterman said.

“It helps people who have extra stuff they need to get rid of and they don’t know what to do with.

“It helps us because the money we make here goes towards building new homes. We are very thankful to the public for the support they have given us. We hope it continues.”