Brian Scudamore writes about Furniture Bank in The Globe And Mail

Brian Scudamore, CEO of O2E Brands, which includes home-service companies including 1-800-GOT-JUNK? wrote an article about Furniture Bank in the The Globe And Mail.Read the article below or access The Globe And Mail’s original post by clicking this link.

Donating used furniture can turn your ‘junk’ into a better future for someone in need

Last night, I had dinner with my family around our kitchen table and then went to sleep in my bed. It sounds like an ordinary evening because, for most of us, it was. We think nothing of the furniture and appliances in our homes because we’re accustomed to these everyday luxuries. (In fact, we don’t think of them as luxuries at all.) But potentially millions of Canadians are living without the basic items many of us take for granted.

Furniture poverty is the inability to afford basic needs (such as furniture, appliances and utensils) that contribute to a standard quality of living. It most commonly affects people in transition, such as refugees, immigrants, women fleeing violence, or the formerly homeless. It’s a problem that’s often ignored because it only exists behind closed doors. The truth is it’s much more common – and more reversible – than you might think.

Charities like Furniture Bank are working hard to end furniture poverty for good by providing gently used items to people in need. However, a recent donations shortage has made it challenging to keep their warehouse stocked. The need for furniture is overwhelming: in addition to the 11,000 people they serve each year, another 50,000 are living in under-furnished conditions.

As part of a company that handles used furniture every day, our 1-800-GOT-JUNK? Toronto franchise partner Ashton Lubman wanted to help address a community issue. In a show of great leadership, he recently partnered with Furniture Bank to give customers the chance to donate their unwanted items to an important charity. By joining forces, we hope to amplify the message that everyone deserves a furnished home and that anyone can help.

THE FURNITURE POVERTY PROBLEM

People affected by furniture poverty often get caught in a cycle; they’re up against a wide range of barriers to securing stable income. Compared to rent, utilities, and food, furniture just isn’t a priority. But the cost of going without it is great, too: it can lead to insecurity, social exclusion and isolation. Furniture poverty is more than a state of financial hardship – there’s an emotional and physical toll that comes along with it.

“In the Toronto area alone, roughly 50,000 people are living in a state of furniture poverty each year,” says Dan Kershaw, Executive Director of Furniture Bank. “They can afford the apartment; they have the keys, the lights, the food, and they’re making do. But they can’t become successful members of society without the furniture required to turn their houses into homes. This is why we exist.”

Since opening in 1998, Furniture Bank has served more than 80,000 people, collected nearly half a million items and diverted 35 million pounds from the landfill. But with demand rapidly outpacing donations, Furniture Bank is experiencing a sliver of the poverty its clients deal with every day.

Part of the problem is that people simply don’t know where or how to dispose of used furniture.

The Toronto Environmental Alliance estimates that reusable goods make up 6 per cent of landfill waste in the GTA – a figure that could be reduced if everyone started donating used furniture instead of throwing it away.

THE OPPORTUNITY: DONATE TO CHARITY

At 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, we donate or recycle whenever possible. As part of this Furniture Drive, our Toronto team wants to educate customers about the impact donating to charity can have.

Thanks to Furniture Bank, the children of single parents have desks to do their homework and newcomers to Canada are able to start their new lives with dignity.

A partnership like this makes sense, since we’re already doing this kind of work every day. Our truck teams separate all gently used furniture and household items, divert them from the landfill and deliver them directly to Furniture Bank (or a charity of our customers’ choosing). People in need can then “shop” for furniture at the Furniture Bank warehouse just like they would at IKEA or The Brick. This provides people who otherwise wouldn’t have access to furniture with the comfort, dignity and stability that comes from having a furnished home.

By acting as a conduit, we hope to restock Furniture Bank’s warehouse so they can support as many people as possible. It’s a small step we can take to give our customers the chance to donate, while simultaneously giving back to the community.

I consider myself a very grateful person, but I’ll admit I rarely think about the security that furniture brings to my life. I envision a day when people no longer see their used furniture as “junk” – they see it as an opportunity to give someone a brighter future.

 

You too can help fellow Canadian families by donating furniture to Furniture Bank or like minded organization in your area. Come drop them off to our Etobicoke location or use our professionnal furniture pickup service.

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Toronto Guardian – Furniture Bank is celebrating 20 years

The following Toronto Guardian article talks about Furniture Bank’s anniversary and what was accomplished in the 20 years of operations. Read the article below or access Toronto Guardian’s original post by clicking this link.

Furniture Bank is celebrating 20 years helping the community

By JOEL LEVY – Toronto Guardian
Tue., Feb. 20, 2018

 

This year, Furniture Bank is celebrating 20 years of providing gently used furniture and household goods to people who have recently transitioned out of homelessness, women and children escaping abusive situations, refugees and other newcomers to Canada.

Last year, Furniture Bank helped over 10,000 individuals, a third of which were children. These recipients received 1500 tonnes of furniture and housewares which may have ended up in a landfill.

“2018 marks Furniture Bank’s 20th Year of Community Service,” states Dan Kershaw, Executive Director, Furniture Bank. “Over the years, we have built up partnerships with a growing list of social service agencies and shelters who play a critical role in ensuring anyone in need of a fresh start is invited to our showroom, and given the dignity of choosing the items of furniture they would like to have in their homes. The Furniture Bank movement is one of empowerment.”

Back in 1998, Sister Anne Schenck was looking for a way to organize and facilitate the transfer of furniture and necessities from individuals disposing of items to homes in need of them. Many of her clients were in need and Furniture Bank became her solution to their problem. Volunteers, hours of pro-bono work and financial donations large and small helped Sister Anne formally incorporate Furniture Bank as a charity.

“I was asked by Catholic Immigration Services to visit one of their clients because they had no furniture,” states Sister Anne Schenck. “When I arrived, I found a home furnished with a milk crate used as a table, and a pot which the dinner was cooked and served in. The residents ate and slept on the floor. On my way home I came upon a sofa that had been left out on the curb for disposal. This led to the creation of Furniture Bank!”

Looking to help out this awesome cause? Check out the information below.

Check out some of these great Client Stories to see some of the impact that they have had on our neighbours.

Accepted Items at Furniture Bank

 

Dining & Living Room
Chairs
Tables
End tables
Credenzas
Book shelves (no taller than 6 ft)
Sofas & love seats
Bedroom
Dressers
Night tables
Desks (no larger than 4 ft)
Metal bed frames
Linens
Matresses & box springs
Electronics
Flat screen TVs of any size
Tube style TVs (no larger than 32 in)
DVD/VCR players
Stereos & radios
Electric fans & space heaters
Small kitchen appliances
Kitchen & Housewares
Small kitchen appliances
Kitchen tables
Cookware
Bakeware
Cutlery
Tableware
Artwork
Rugs (no larger than 8 x 11 ft)
Clothing
Clothing
Purses
Hats
Footwear
Accessories
Curtains
Blankets
Pillows
Towels
Sheets
Linens
Draperies

Areas served

Scarborough, Pickering, Ajax, Whitby, Oshawa, Thornhill, Richmond Hill, Aurora, Markham, Vaughan, Woodbridge, Etobicoke, Brampton, Caledon, Mississauga, Oakville, Burlington and Hamilton.

Furniture bank pickup service area map

Drop off location:

25 Connell Ct., Unit 1, Toronto, ON M8Z 1E8

Drop off hours: MONDAY – FRIDAY

That while they encourage drop off, should you have the need for help transferring your gently-used items to their showroom, they do, for a fee, offer a transfer service (movers and trucks).

Tax-receipt available for all donations (in-kind or otherwise).

PHONE NUMBER for drop off appointment, or to book a pick-up 416.934.1229

9 AM – 12 NOON

By appointment only

Please note: they require all dropped off items to be fully assembled.

You too can help fellow Canadian families by donating furniture to Furniture Bank or like minded organization in your area. Come drop them off to our Etobicoke location or use our professionnal furniture pickup service.

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Furniture Bank makes houses into homes for families in need – The Star

The Star cover stories from former Furniture Bank clients. Read the article below or access The Star’s original post by clicking this link.

Furniture Bank makes houses into homes for families in need

By TAMAR HARRIS – The Star Staff Reporter
Mon., Feb. 19, 2018

Martin’s Story

A townhouse with only an overturned milk carton and three sleeping bags was transformed into a furnished home for Martin Train and his family.

Train and his family lived in the Beaches before personal and financial struggles led to them losing their home.

“I wound up homeless and I was living in a shelter,” Train told the Star.

“Eventually, I found a place after a few weeks … it was a townhouse in Leslieville. We’re sitting there, me and my two children Liam and Caitlyn, we’re sitting on the floor and all we had was a milk crate and three sleeping bags.

“And I was wondering, what am I going to do? I had no idea where to go or what to do.”

Train and his family were referred to the Furniture Bank, a charity that provides gently used furniture and household goods to people in need.

Founded in 1998, they are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year. Last year, they helped over 10,400 people and provided 1,500 tonnes of furniture.

The Furniture Bank, in Etobicoke, has helped more than 10,400 people in need furnish their homes in the past 20 years.

The Furniture Bank, in Etobicoke, has helped more than 10,400 people in need furnish their homes in the past 20 years.  (SUPPLIED PHOTO)

Three-and-a-half years ago, the Furniture Bank was a saving grace for the Train family. Within days, they went from sleeping on the floor to each child having their own bed — “a magical transformation,” Train said.

“It’s so demoralizing as a parent if you don’t have a bed for your child,” he explained. “And the fact that they provided that was just unbelievable for me. It was uplifting. I felt a huge sense of relief.”

Train’s entire townhome was furnished from the Furniture Bank, with tables and chairs and mattresses, among other items.

“The reason the (dining) table and chairs are my favourite piece is because that’s where we actually sit down — and we’ve been doing that for years — and we sit down and we actually have a meal, we talk, and when my fiancée comes down with her son we have a big dinner at the table,” Train said.

“Everybody’s laughing and talking.”

And since their townhouse was furnished, everything has been “so positive,” Train said.

He’s engaged to his fiancée Michelle, with the wedding set for August 2019.

A "before" picture of a room, prior to being furnished by the Furniture Bank.

A “before” picture of a room, prior to being furnished by the Furniture Bank.

An "after" picture of a room, after being furnished by the Furniture Bank.

An “after” picture of a room, after being furnished by the Furniture Bank.

His son Liam is in his second year at York University, studying history. His daughter Caitlyn is in Grade 11 and has set her sights on being a lawyer. Train’s eldest son Mitchell is married and living in Australia with his wife, and recently welcomed baby Miller to their family.

Tarun’s Story

Tarun Mehta, his wife Nidhi, and their 5-year-old daughter visited the Furniture Bank earlier this month, a trip he called “amazing.”

“It was nice,” Mehta said. “They were really helpful.”

After emigrating in September from India, the Mehta family pulled together some essentials for their home themselves — a dining room table and some other necessities.

Mehta said they picked up “more cosmetic things,” at the Furniture Bank including chairs, a desk, a couple of lamps and a coffee table.

“If I had to get all this stuff from the market, I would be spending somewhere around $3,000 at the market,” Mehta said. “This definitely saves a lot of money and a lot of pain.”

Mehta is working a couple part-time jobs while taking classes in mathematics. Once his family is more settled, he and his wife have agreed to give back to the community that helped them.

A "before" picture of a room, prior to being furnished by the Furniture Bank.

A “before” picture of a room, prior to being furnished by the Furniture Bank.

An "after" picture of a room, after being furnished by the Furniture Bank.

An “after” picture of a room, after being furnished by the Furniture Bank.

“There is a feeling that once you get this, you always try to give it back to the society,” he said. “That is what I was discussing with my wife yesterday.”

A word with Furniture Bank’s Executive Director

Nearly all of the Furniture Bank clients have secured housing, and “they’ve got keys to an empty apartment,” said Dan Kershaw, executive director of the Furniture Bank, “but they don’t have a home yet.

“They’re literally walking into four walls and a floor, as we say.”

Outfitting an empty apartment from scratch costs about $5,000, Kershaw said. That’s a high and often inaccessible price for the Furniture Bank’s clients, who include people transitioning out of homelessness, women and children escaping abuse, newcomers and refugees and others in need of a fresh start.

Clients must be referred to the Furniture Bank through a partner agency. An allotted amount of furniture is free, and clients must pay a fee, typically ranging from $100 to $200, for delivery.

“Every day, we allow 20 families to come in and be whatever they’re meant to be,” Kershaw said.

“If they’re meant to become a politician, become a politician. A lawyer? They can become a lawyer. But until they have those needed things, they’re trapped surviving inside a space that when they close the door at night, nobody knows that they’re existing that way.

“And that’s the really horrible thing, is that it’s a social issue that’s a very prideful thing. It’s really about dignity.”

You too can help fellow Canadian families by donating furniture to Furniture Bank or like minded organization in your area. Come drop them off to our Etobicoke location or use our professionnal furniture pickup service.

GET A PICKUP QUOTE

The Star reffers Furniture Bank as one of “the best places to donate old furniture, clothes and other household items”

The Star suggests Furniture Bank to its readers as one of “The best places to donate old furniture, clothes and other household items”. Read the article below or access The Star’s original post by clicking this link.

The best places to donate old furniture, clothes and other household items

By ANDY DESANTIS – eieihome.com
Fri., Feb. 16, 2018

Many homeowners, especially those undertaking a renovation project, are likely looking to remove many old, unwanted items from their space – however, some may be held back by not knowing where to donate or who will ultimately benefit from those items.

Here’s a handy list of some of the best places to donate secondhand items, the types of good that are typically accepted and how your donations will actually be used.

Diabetes Canada De-Clutter Initiative: Consider donating gently used clothing, small household items and small electronics to this organization. They pick up items for free and donations not only support diabetes research, but also send children with Type 1 diabetes and their family to special diabetes-focused summer camps.

Furniture Bank: “Your used furniture will change a life” – that’s the Furniture Bank’s motto. They pick up furniture for a small fee (for which you will receive a tax receipt) and give it to individuals in the process of transitioning out of homelessness or displacement. The Furniture Bank has worked extensively with Syrian refugees, providing them with much-needed furniture to facilitate their new start in Ontario.

Toronto Public Library: They’ll accept used book donations at their Reference Library and North York Central locations. These books are then turned around at used book sales, with the proceeding helping to fund library programs that couldn’t exist with government funding alone. Or, if you have children’s books and prefer they go right into the hands of another child, have a look at The Children’s Book Bank.

Oasis Clothing BankWith locations across the city, the Oasis Addiction Recovery Program takes gently used clothing for their participants or sells them to fun the program’s activities. Oasis will also pick up your stuff for you.  Other great options for clothing donations include The Salvation Army and Value Village.

Habitat For Humanity: Furniture, appliances and home-building material donations will be put to use in building affordable homes for those in need. Although it’s one of the most recognizable non-profits worldwide, many are unaware that Habitat For Humanity also accepts material donation. Depending on the amount you have, they may even pick it up for you too.

There’s no reason why the holiday spirit of giving can’t carry into the new year – choose an organization that not only resonates with you, but can also accept the items you have to give.

As the old saying goes, it is more rewarding to give than to receive. Although the holidays have come and gone, this thought is something that always has a ring of truth.

You too can help fellow Canadian families by donating furniture to Furniture Bank or like minded organization in your area. Come drop them off to our Etobicoke location or use our professionnal furniture pickup service.

GET A PICKUP QUOTE

Funrniture Bank on CBC News

CBC News posted a nice article about Furniture Bank, how it operates, what is needed and how you can help. Read the article below or access CBC’s original post by clicking this link.

A Toronto furniture charity that helps thousands of people every year is struggling to furnish its own warehouse.

The Furniture Bank, a registered charity and social enterprise, passes donated items on to individuals and families in need.

That need is high right now, but the Furniture Bank is running low.

“This room should be brimming with furniture,” executive director Dan Kershaw said in an empty section of the charity’s Etobicoke warehouse.

Running at full capacity, the Furniture Bank, which was founded in 1998, can help about 20 families per day, but right now they can only manage about half that.

Furniture bank Dan

Dan Kershaw says there is ‘crisis’ in the GTA right now with as many as 50,000 families in need of furniture. (Barry Smith/CBC)

There is an active waiting list and Kershaw estimates there are as many 50,000 families in the GTA in need of furniture, including refugees, new immigrants and women escaping abuse.

“More furniture allows us to help more families. It’s that simple,” Kershaw said.

Furniture not a priority

One of the families, Dimpy Komal, Deepak Kathait and their 6 year-old daughter, toured the Furniture Bank’s showroom on Thursday.

They immigrated from India less than two years ago. Komal is studying right now and most of the family’s income goes towards their north Etobicoke apartment.

“Housing takes a lot of money. It’s a major cost. It’s more than what I expected,” Komal said.

Add on groceries, transportation and child care, and buying a coffee table slides down the priority list.

Furniture bank truck

A truck is loaded at the Furniture Bank in Etobicoke. The charity is in need of more donated furniture. (Barry Smith/CBC)

“Furniture is far down that list,” Komal said.

Kershaw says furniture is an important social need but one that gets overshadowed by housing.

“We’re that very last mile, where people who have keys to an empty apartment come here to build a home,” he said.

‘Treated with dignity’

And how the Furniture Bank does this is important.

Families are invited to the showroom and assisted in selecting the right furniture. It’s then delivered free of charge right to their home.

Janice Fedak, a professional interior designer who volunteers for the charity, says she treats people at Furniture Bank the same way she treats her professional clients.

Furniture Bank volunteer

Janice Fedak is an interior designer who volunteers at the Furniture Bank. (Barry Smith/CBC)

“They’re all the same. Everyone is picking the things that they need to make their house a home,” she said.

As she guides them through the showroom, Fedak tries to get a sense of the space being furnished and a family’s needs in order to help them choose the right items.

“The most important thing is that they’re treated with dignity,” she said.

‘We had 3 sleeping bags and a milk crate’

Martin Train is single father, who experienced homelessness for the first time over three years ago.

After he was able to secure a townhouse in Leslieville, his kids came back to stay with him, but it still didn’t feel like a home.

“We’re sitting on the floor, we had 3 sleeping bags and a milk crate. And that is all we had,” he said.

Train said living without furniture was socially isolating.

“I couldn’t have anyone over. It was demoralizing,” Train said in an interview.

But after contacting the Furniture Bank, Train said they helped him furnish the townhouse within 48 hours. (Learn more about Martin’s Story)

“For something like that to happen to you and your family is very humbling,” Train said. “They treated us with respect.”

Donations accepted

The Furniture Bank gets many of its items through its pickup service.

For a fee, they will pick up unwanted items that people want to donate.

A tax receipt is provided.

The fees offset the cost of the service and fund the enterprise.

The Furniture Bank also raises money through traditional fundraising drives.

 

You too can help fellow Canadian families by donating furniture to Furniture Bank or like minded organization in your area. Come drop them off to our Etobicoke location or use our professionnal furniture pickup service.

GET A PICKUP QUOTE

Toronto’s Sun Article about Furniture Bank

A future with Toronto’s Furniture Bank

Read the original article on the Toronto Sun’s website here.

Toronto’s famous Furniture Bank celebrates 20 years of giving people a sense of home. Founded in 1998, Furniture Bank provides gently used furniture and household goods to people who have recently transitioned out of homelessness, women and children escaping abusive situations, refugees and newcomers to Canada.

“2018 marks Furniture Bank’s 20th Year of community service,” says executive director Dan Kershaw. “Over the years, we have built up partnerships with a growing list of social service agencies and shelters who play a critical role in ensuring anyone in need of a fresh start is invited to our showroom, and given the dignity of choosing the items of furniture they would like to have in their homes. The Furniture Bank movement is one of empowerment.”

Founded in 1998, Sister Anne Schenck was inspired by her visits to many clients who did not have adequate furniture and necessities which led to the development of the Furniture Bank, an organization that facilitates the transfer of furniture and necessities from individuals disposing of items to homes in need of them.

“I was asked by Catholic Immigration Services to visit one of their clients because they had no furniture,” said Sister Anne Schenck. “When I arrived, I found a home furnished with a milk crate used as a table, and a pot which the dinner was cooked and served in. The residents ate and slept on the floor. On my way home I came upon a sofa that had been left out on the curb for disposal. This led to the creation of Furniture Bank!”

With the help of numerous volunteers, countless hours of pro-bono work and financial donations, small and large, Sister Anne formally incorporated Furniture Bank as a charity in 1998.

From its humble beginnings, Furniture Bank has served over 10,400 individuals in 2017, over 3,800 of which were children, by way of over 1,500 tonnes of furniture and housewares much of which would have otherwise ended up in landfill. For a pickup fee that helps to cover costs, Furniture Bank comes to your home and removes furniture and other items that you no longer need. Donated items are provided to people most in need who are referred by over 80 social service agencies in Toronto to turn an empty space into a true home.

– Links for additional details about: donating furniture,   volunteering or to donate money.