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Habitat for Humanity Opening "ReStore"

New store to sell used home furniture, appliances and goods at a lower cost to the community to benefit the organization, construction projects and the local economy.

Habitat for Humanity is bringing a new store to the neighborhood with an offer that doubles the reward on recycling.

Donating old cabinets during an upgrade or renovation also will mean helping a family in need build a new place to call home.

"Not only are we keeping materials out of landfills, but our end goal is to build more affordable housing," said Maggie Withrow of Forest Hills, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh.

Habitat's volunteer-run "ReStore" will open at the Edgewood Town Center by mid-March, according to store manager Mary Lou Mills. The 25,000 square foot space is already filling up with donated couches, futons, tables, chairs and specialty items including a grandfather clock.

Habitat is renting the space, which is adjacent to Planet Fitness and is the site of the former Busy Beaver store.

Habitat is accepting donations on an ongoing basis at the site and will split what is dropped off between the retail space and any current Habitat construction projects, Withrow said. Goods at the store will sell for less than half of the original retail price.

"I think that what we realized many years ago is the ReStore concept is a perfect deal because as people donate building materials, we can use them as an investment in our homes," Withrow said. "With other places in the area who have a similar mission, what distinguishes us is the end goal – it's recycling with a purpose."

There are more than 700 ReStores across the country. This is the first in the Greater Pittsburgh Area while Beaver, Butler, Washington and Westmoreland counties also have ReStores.

Volunteers are painting the walls in the warehouse-style space and putting shelving up to prepare for its opening. Windows near the front of the ReStore will be incorporated into murals of different homes listing major donors' names.

Withrow said Edgewood Town Center was a natural choice because of its accessibility to the parkway. Habitat's own research states that more than 80,000 cars pass through the area each day.

In addition to helping people build new homes, Withrow said the ReStore also will give an economic boost to families in the immediate community.

"I think it will provide people an opportunity to shop for the merchandise we are going to sell at 50 percent retail," Withrow said. "It will provide people in these economic times a chance to shop at a discount."

Mills of Monongahela also said the store will allow Habitat to raise and save more money, giving more people the opportunity to live in their own homes created by themselves in partnership with the organization.

"We also do have a green component since people will be donating things they might have thrown away in the past," Mills said.

Mills said 10 to 12 volunteers a day will be needed to run the ReStore. Habitat has already begun to form volunteer partnerships with the Pennsylvania Organization for Women in Early Recovery in Swissvale, Wilkinsburg Earns and Chatham University.

Keith Rau of Monroeville is volunteering with the ReStore to help pick up donations with Habitat's 18-foot truck.

"I have always liked the idea of volunteering and so many times donating money you don't know where it goes, so doing work seemed much more appealing," Rau said. "There is that sense of community and many of the items would be thrown away even though they have value. The ReStore is a great opportunity and perfect for starting a small home and furnishing it."

While the ReStore is accepting donations from families, individuals and manufacturers that need to get rid of surpluses, the store will not accept used cans of paint, chemicals, firearms, clothes, mattresses, box springs or old computer monitors.

Withrow said with the ReStore in the neighborhood, it will add a new burst of energy to the population here.

"It just feels like community," she said.

For information on volunteer opportunities with Habitat for Humanity visit http://www.pittsburghhabitat.org/volunteer.html or call 412-271-HOME.

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