Locals of Warminster and its surrounding areas enjoyed a treasure hunt, snacks and shopping on July 9, all in celebration of Habitat for Humanity ReStore’s one-year anniversary at 539 Jacksonville Road.
According to BJ Breish, ReStore director, the event was more than an enjoyable birthday bash. It commemorated 12 successful months of helping Habitat for Humanity of Bucks County fulfill its mission of providing affordable housing and repairs throughout the area.
ReStore Warminster, as well as its first Bucks location ReStore Langhorne, 1337 E. Lincoln Highway (next to Marshalls) in Levittown, is constantly accepting donations of furniture, clothing, homeware, appliances and a slew of other items.
“At this point, it might be easier to share what we don’t do,” Breish said with a laugh.
These donations are then placed on the ReStore sales floor and purchased by shoppers at a discounted price. After the store’s bills are paid, the rest of the proceeds go toward Habitat Bucks’ latest housing or repair project. Currently, ReStore sales are helping the organization build in Bristol its 126th home.
This past fiscal year saw the two Bucks County ReStore spots receive 22,358 donations; make over $3 million in total sales; operate with 1,071 volunteers over the course of 30,333 volunteer hours; and divert 5 million pounds of waste away from landfills.
For approximately a decade, Habitat Bucks’ second ReStore was situated in Chalfont. However, given the organization’s constant goal of expanding, a bigger facility was needed. Breish admitted that, when it was announced the Chalfont location would be transitioning to a Warminster space, which is twice the size of its predecessor at 40,000 square feet, there was some apprehension from regular shoppers.
“We were well-established and well-loved in the Chalfont area,” said Breish. “But we wanted to grow the program and the Warminster area would help us do that. We were pleasantly surprised that the majority, if not all, of our regular customers continued to come to Warminster.”
Looking ahead, Breish said a third ReStore is “a very strong possibility,” though nothing is definite at the moment. In the meantime, small renovations, such as the installation of LED lighting, are being completed at ReStore Langhorne, which celebrated its sixth anniversary in April.
Additionally, Breish and his team are brainstorming creative ways to keep growing ReStore. A prime example of this is its recent re-implementation of TV and electronic donations. Days after an announcement was made on social media, ReStore received over 1,300 responses from residents wishing to drop off their e-waste.
“There is no other free way for anybody in the community to get rid of a television, or a lot of other e-waste for that matter, outside of the ReStore program,” said Breish. “We’re already here, we’re already accepting donations. Why not try to find a way to support the community this way? Plus, if you’re already going through the effort of putting a TV in your car, maybe you’ll be more inclined to fill it with other stuff for donation, too.”
Even if someone isn’t sure whether or not ReStore can use their items, Breish encouraged them to bring it over during business hours anyway. If something can’t be placed on the sales floor, he explained that it can likely be recycled, repurposed or collected by a partnering organization that can sell or make use of it. The key goal is to keep as many discarded items as possible out of landfills.
“We’re able to circulate items back out into the community, give them a second chance, if you will,” said Breish.
He also stressed that no donation is too big or small for ReStore to handle. Businesses that are downsizing, renovating or relocating are urged to reach out.
“When someone thinks of ReStore, they might not think they can bring tractor trailer loads, hundreds of thousands of different things out of a warehouse. They wonder if we’re able to manage it. The answer is yes,” said Breish, who added that ReStore has its own tractor trailer that can be sent out within 24 hours for larger projects. “We have the capabilities. We have the space. We have the resources to make it happen. And it’s a win-win. We can provide a service for them and, in turn, they can support the community.”
In addition to donations, volunteers are always needed at both ReStore locations. Breish said they’re instrumental in the program’s growth and are able to feel they’re making a difference. Two – Dottie Paxton and Peg Ingles – were present at the Warminster birthday bash. Both are longtime volunteers, clocking over 900 hours each.
Ultimately, Habitat Bucks’ ReStore, which Breish said is in the top 10 percent of similar programs in counties nationwide, is a well-oiled machine of buyers, donors and volunteers, all coming together to improve an individual or family’s housing situation.
“The cost of homes is getting further out of reach for people in the community,” said Breish. “We need to grow our program so that we can continue to build.”
Visit habitatbucks.org/restore-recycle-reuse-reduce/ or call 215-822-2708 (ReStore Warminster) or 215-716-5006 (ReStore Langhorne) for more information.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org