This is the giving season, and there are ways you, as a remodeler, can play Santa Claus for families in need. You won't get milk and cookies, but you don't have to dress up, either.
One place to look is your Habitat for Humanity chapter. Your local affiliate may be one of dozens across the country that has opened a ReStore, a kind of thrift shop for building materials. The ReStores collect donations of everything from 2x4s to doorknobs and then sell them at a greatly reduced cost.
The first ReStore was started by a Habitat affiliate in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, according to Nevil Eastwood, director of construction and environmental resources for Habitat International. (There are something like 40 ReStores in Canada today, about half as many as there are in the United States).
Eastwood says that the three biggest ReStores — Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin, Texas — each bring in about $1 million in revenue annually. He adds that most items are sold for about half the cost they'd go for new, minus a little for wear and tear.
A similar but not as widespread option is a program called the Storehouse, which is run by the charitable organization World Vision. There are 10 Storehouses in the United States, although currently only four of them — in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and West Virginia — collect building materials (other programs include collecting teaching supplies and clothing for needy communities).
“The Storehouse goes to major corporations across the country and solicits their excess stock,” according to Luis Jimenez, Storehouse director in New York. However, he adds, “no donation is too small.” Both Jimenez and Eastwood encourage contractors of all sizes to donate what they can to their respective programs.
If the warm feeling you get when helping out your fellow man isn't enough incentive for you, how about this: Material contributions to both ReStore and Storehouse are considered charitable donations and are therefore tax-deductible. Meaning you'll be putting a little extra money in your pocket while you're helping others.
So come on, Scrooge. What are you waiting for?