23
March

Groups Get Free Withdrawals From Kane’s Furniture Bank

When a large company downsizes its office space, it may find itself letting not only some employees go but some high-quality desks and chairs as well.

That’s when Elkridge, Md.-based office moving Kane Co. comes in, collecting excess furniture from its clients to stock a “furniture bank” in Rockville.

But rather than storing the furniture or shipping it to some landfill, the Kane Co. opens its doors once a month to nonprofit organizations, which can look through the donated items, pick out the ones they need and stock their facilities free of charge.

“It somewhat resembles Macy’s the day after Thanksgiving,” said CEO John Kane. “We took the old adage of ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ and put it into reality.”

During a time of slow economic growth and budget-cutting measures, governments at all levels are looking to nonprofits to help people the government’s stressed coffers can’t assist, adding pressure — and further expenses — to those organizations.

The furniture donations help them by reducing their operating costs, Kane said.

“If you’ve been to many nonprofit facilities and offices, you’ll see they’re operating in subpar working environments,” he said. “They don’t have the money themselves.”

Since September, the Kane furniture bank has helped 22 nonprofits, filling 57 trailers worth of furniture averaging $3,000 per transport.

Kane said his company does not receive tax deductions for the monthly events.

The company doesn’t even make any money by transporting items from the furniture bank to a nonprofit’s home. Instead of doing that work itself, Kane Co. arranges for the nonprofits to find other local delivery companies to transport their haul.

“Our whole approach is if we take any money for it at all, it poisons the well of the mission, which is to affect provisioning and delivery of good, quality furniture to nonprofits,” he said.

The events have helped nonprofits such as the Capital Area Food Bank and Humanim.

Mike Hall, facilities manager of Humanim, a Columbia, Md.-based mental health nonprofit, said the furniture the organization received saved more than $10,000 and revitalized a building once stocked with furniture he described as “aging” and in some cases, “urine-soaked.”

“People ask for furniture in the budget for different departments, and that’s something that usually gets scratched,” Hall said. “This is really the only way we get good, quality office furniture.”

Humanim serves patients with brain injuries and mental disabilities, making comfort a top priority for its facilities.

Hall said that although the benefits can’t be precisely measured, the furniture boosts morale and keeps the facilities clean.

“It just has so many benefits in so many ways,” he said. “It’s been a tremendous help to our organization.”

The Kane Co. opens its warehouse doors for nonprofits on the second Saturday of each month from 9 a.m. to noon.

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