Among the myriad social service agencies and charities in Bloomington-Normal are an equal number of lesser known groups that do the same work, but under the radar.
Recycling Furniture For Families is one of them. Started in 2002, the group works out of a building at 515 N. Center St. in Bloomington. Families in need–vetted by churches and other agencies–are invited for a single visit through the warehouse to choose furniture and bric-a-brac to help start a new life.
Sometimes the families have lost a home to fire or foreclosure; other are starting new lives after surviving prison or abuse. They have nothing–no bed, no forks or spoons, no kitchen table, no chairs–nothing, that is, except the support of Recycling Furniture For Families and other charities.
“You take something to somebody who has nothing. It changes their life. It changes yours,” said longtime volunteer Jim McNamara in explaining why he and his wife, Sharon, help the charity.
Last year, about 50 volunteers logged 9,012 hours and helped 430 families whose average income was $9,530.
And now, in an all-too-common predicament, the charity that helps others needs some help itself.
Specifically, volunteer drivers to deliver furniture and pick up donations such as sofas. Drivers must have a good driving record and a standard driver’s license to drive a box truck (We still need volunteer drivers and helpers to load and unload furniture.)
Other volunteers are needed to make small repairs to electronics and furniture, organize donations, work in the office and help families during warehouse visits. (Names are being taken on a waiting list–response to The Pantagraph article got results)
If you can’t volunteer, consider donating household goods or simply cash. The money can help pay for utilities, free furniture pickup, truck maintenance or gas.
To volunteer, donate or get more information, call Recycling Furniture For Families at 309-829-6500. Monetary donations can be mailed to Recycling Furniture For Families, 515 N. Center St., Bloomington, IL. 61701.
(This editorial was printed July 11, 2013)