Up on the 10th floor of a downtown apartment building on Metcalfe Street in late February, police foundations students carried furniture from an apartment into a truck.
Disassembled bed frames and tables were squeezed through doorways. However, this was not a moving day. All of these items were headed for the Helping with Furniture warehouse.
The three student movers choose to complete their volunteer hours, which is a requirement of their program, by helping collect donated goods on behalf of the charity.
“They’re pretty thankful that we take out the furniture,” says Chris McArthur, a student volunteer. “Some have even given cash donations.”
What initially started as a single church receiving donations has now evolved into a charity with over 200 volunteers operating all over the city. Helping with Furniture looks to furnish the homes of those who are unable to do so for themselves.
The group collects furniture from donors around the city, sorts it out at the warehouse, and then ships it off to people who have made requests. This could include refugees, single-parent families or people who are recovering from being homeless.
Contributions like cash donations are some of the only ways the charity raises money. Financial support is not provided from the government.
The two trucks that are used for pickups and deliveries were bought with money provided by volunteers. Galas and online fundraisers are also set up regularly to help pay for gas and the rent for the facility.
Nathalie Maione, the organizer of the group, sees Helping with Furniture as beneficial in a couple of ways.
If the donated goods aren’t taken to the warehouse, they could end up in the streets or in a landfill polluting our living space. On the other hand, this otherwise wasted furniture benefits those in need.
“It is important for people to feel like everybody else,” says Maione.
As for the police foundations students, she says it would help them later on in the workforce. If they can connect with donors and furniture recipients on a personal level it could make them more empathetic as police officers.
Helping with Furniture has had an emotional impact for those involved. Kids’ eyes widen when they see their new furniture and parents clasp the hands of the volunteers with watery eyes.
“We don’t care where you’re from, what your religion or sexual orientation is,” says Wesley Lawrence, a regular volunteer, “we just want people to have furnished homes.”