Donated Dorm, Hospital and School Furnishings: Making Lives Better via Food For The Poor and IRN

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The old adage that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure has never been more true for tens of thousands of individuals and families in the Caribbean and Latin America who are the recipients of donated items processed by the Institution Recycling Network (IRN) and distributed by Food For the Poor.

The old adage that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure has never been more true for tens of thousands of individuals and families in the Caribbean and Latin America who are the recipients of donated items processed by the Institution Recycling Network (IRN) and distributed by Food For the Poor. Since 2002, more than 25 million pounds of furnishings have been distributed through the IRN-Food For The Poor partnership.

“All of these furnishings are in usable condition. They come from schools, companies, and hospitals across the country,” said Mark Lennon of IRN, which is located in Concord, N.H. “It is a huge waste of resources to throw away furniture and equipment that can still be used.”
These usable goods were donated through IRN to the international relief and development organization Food For The Poor. Dorm room beds, dressers and night tables, plus desks and other furnishings from educational, healthcare and other organizations have been refurbished and put to use by a new generation of students and families.

“When we see couches that once filled the lobbies of college campuses, now fill the lobbies of orphanages in Guyana; and when families who receive Food For The Poor houses in Jamaica also get to furnish their new homes with twin beds and dorm-room dressers, we are truly humbled by the generosity of our donors,” said Angel Aloma, Executive Director of Food For The Poor. “We are especially grateful when we see items like donated hospital beds that have replaced the worn and rusted-out hospital furnishings that were being used in clinics in El Salvador.”

For more than three decades, Food For The Poor has been a dedicated servant of the poor, delivering food and other basic items to the seventeen countries it serves. The organization’s staff works closely with its partners to provide medical supplies, vocational training equipment, school and residential furniture to community-building projects.

One project that has benefited from the IRN-Food For The Poor partnership is the Ecole Reap de Morel in Leogane, Haiti. Destroyed during the 2010 earthquake, the school was rebuilt and inaugurated on March 24, 2012, thanks to the fundraising efforts of 12-year-old Rachel Wheeler of Lighthouse Point, Fla., and college-aged twins Ashton and Chesney Hellmuth of Alexandria, Va., through Food For The Poor. The new school has 10 furnished classrooms, a principal’s office, a staff room, canteen and kitchen. Most of the school’s desks, tables, and other furnishings were provided through IRN.

IRN’s partnership with Food For The Poor began a decade ago. More than 1,650 container loads of residential, classroom, and medical furnishings have been sourced by IRN and distributed throughout Food For The Poor’s projects in the Caribbean Basin. In addition to Haiti, major recipients of school and other furnishings include El Salvador, Guyana, and Jamaica.

“Some of the schools we consistently work with are the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Boston University, Columbia University, the University of Vermont, Emerson College, Santa Clara University, the University of Central Missouri, Notre Dame University, Babson College, Middlebury College and the Claremont Consortium in California,” Lennon said. “When we started working with these schools, it seemed natural that Food For The Poor might need the kind of surplus we have access to. It has been a great relationship for all involved – but best of all for Food For The Poor’s recipients, who so desperately need the furniture we can provide.”

About Food For The Poor
Food For The Poor, named by The Chronicle of Philanthropy as the largest international relief and development organization in the nation, does much more than feed millions of the hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 96 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor. For more information, please visit http://www.FoodForThePoor.org.

About IRN
IRN is a cooperative recycling organization that works with over 350 colleges and universities, hospitals, K-12 schools, and private companies to improve the performance and economics of recycling. IRN negotiates transportation, processing, and marketing of recycled commodities and provides a single point of contact to recycle dozens of different materials. IRN handles over 75 commodities – everything from cardboard and fluorescent lamps to concrete and Astroturf. IRN is known particularly for its effective recycling of unusual and complex commodities such as electronic equipment, construction and demolition wastes, and surplus property. For more information about IRN, visit http://www.IRNSurplus.com.

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