ReStores sell reclaimed materials for home improvement

October 15, 2010 (ELGIN)

The organization is best known for helping volunteers build houses for families in need.

You could describe the new ReStore as a cross between a thrift store and big box home remodeling center. Organizers call it "retail with a mission." Either way, it is keeping construction materials out of landfills while helping homeowners to "Live Green."

They call it the ReStore. You might call it a "do-it-yourselfer's" paradise.

The 40,000-square-foot warehouse is brimming with home goods: from towels to dining tables, lamps to lumber.

"We take in these items as donations and we resell them to the public at a fraction of the cost," said Habitat for Humanity ReStore Director Jeremy Keen.

The proceeds benefit Habitat for Humanity, a 34-year-old organization that uses volunteer labor to build homes for families in need.

"First and foremost, we're a fundraising arm for Habitat for Humanity," said Keen. "We also provide cost-effective building materials for the community so they're able to fix up their own homes, especially in these tough economic times."

"We get some wonderful things," said ReStore volunteer Marsha O'Keefe. "We get fairly new furniture, some appliances - sometimes they're less than five years old, just a good variety of donations, beautiful doors, beautiful windows, beautiful chandeliers both new and used."

About half their donations are new merchandise from retail chains and manufacturers. For instance, luxury bathroom sinks were once display items at a local home repair store.

"We are diverting materials from area landfills. Everything in here would've ended up in a landfill had we not been here to intercede," said Keen. "Since we started, we've diverted about 2,500 tons of building materials from landfills in about five years... so, it's helping the community, and it's giving back and it's keeping the planet green."

The Habitat for Humanity ReStores are always looking for quality donations and cheerful volunteers. There are several ReStores in the Chicago and Northwest Indiana area.

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