If you’ve ever moved, you know what it’s like to have some furniture that you probably don’t want to take with you because it’s too big, it doesn’t fit your needs anymore, or it just won’t work with your new house. But then you have to figure out what to do with it. Community Warehouse is your perfect solution. Here’s how your unwanted furniture helps those in desperate need through Community Warehouse.
A Little History
Community Warehouse has two large warehouses—in Portland (at 3969 NE MLK JR Blvd) and in Tualatin (8380 SW Nyberg St). But it has some pretty humble beginnings.
In the early 1990s, Rov Babener and several volunteers started a small furniture bank out of a garage. The furniture went to Jewish immigrants who were coming from Europe and settling in the Portland area. This volunteer group helped people give their excess furniture to those who desperately needed it—they were the middle man, if you will.
That small group quickly grew, but eventually, there were no more Jewish immigrants in need of help settling into Portland. So in 2001, the group established a non-affiliated 503(c) non-profit, and the modern-day Community Warehouse was born.
How Community Warehouse Helps Those in Need
Community Warehouse served 7,400 individuals last year, and just under half of them were children. Many of these people are coming out of homelessness. Community Warehouse also regularly helps veterans, the disabled, domestic violence survivors, and those who have low incomes and limited resources.
The organization partners with over 200 local social service agencies that are in regular contact with people who are in the middle of a crisis (or who have just gone through one). These people are often moving into small apartments as they get on their feet. They may have access to food from the food bank, clothes and shoes, and a new space to live, but furniture is often the final missing piece of the puzzle.
One of the best parts of Community Warehouse is that case managers are able to help families and individuals figure out what they need, submit a request, and go through the warehouse and pick out their own items. Rena, the organization’s communications director, says it’s a lot of fun to watch people get to shop for themselves.
How You Can Help
What’s Most Needed
Community Warehouse always needs pots and pans, dressers, and twin beds. Blankets are also in constant need, especially during the colder months of the year. During this holiday season they are particularly in need of dining tables (it’s so important for people to have a way to cook and feed their families during the holidays). See a list of all accepted items, including the ones most needed, here.
What Not to Donate
If you want to donate, Community Warehouse is thrilled to accept your donation. Please note that they have certain things they cannot accept (just to keep things running smoothly). These include things like clothing, sofa beds, and large kitchen appliances. A complete list of things that can’t be accepted can be found here.
Ways to Donate
There are two great ways to donate to Community Warehouse. First, you can simply drop your goods off at the warehouse—no need for an appointment, just drive up. Second, for a minimal $30 fee, they’ll come pick your stuff up, which is great if you have things that are too heavy or bulky to take yourself! This fee covers any number of items you want to donate—from a table to an entire room full of furniture.
Shop the Estate Stores
Both warehouses have an attached estate store. About 10% of all donations that come in are antiques or collectibles. These are sold in estate stores that are open to the public, and the money generated from these sales helps keep Community Warehouse in operation.
How the Local Community Helps
The community has been incredibly supportive of the only furniture bank in Portland. Local and national business have found ways to give surplus or discontinued goods to Community Warehouse. This way those goods can be put to use rather than just thrown away (which is what would usually happen to them).
Community Warehouse Impact
Community Warehouse gives people the furniture they desperately need to live a comfortable life, and it does so in a dignified way—a way that makes people feel good about themselves and about getting back on track.
As Rena says, “It’s been so humbling to realize what a powerful but silent role furnishings play for most of us. A comfortable home is so vital to well-being, especially for someone who has been through a crisis. Community Warehouse is a critical piece of the puzzle in helping people be self-sufficient (along with food, clothing, and a place to live).”
One of the warehouse’s taglines is “The strength of our community begins at home.” So, if you have anything extra to donate to Community Warehouse, you’re helping to make your own community stronger. Your donations will go to a family or individual in need, usually within 24 to 48 hours.
We’re grateful to the people at Community Warehouse for all they’re doing to make Portland a better place to be. This is what community is all about.