by Sheryl Helmus, Volunteer
In a “throw away” society, Pass It On Thrift Center operates on a totally different philosophy. For over 20 years, PIO has been reusing, recycling, and reselling merchandise. In the beginning, the vision of founder Marion Van Stedum was cutting edge: have people donate good, previously owned, unwanted items and then resell them at a lower price. As time passed, the idea slowly caught on, and the amount of donations received over the years has grown tremendously. Of course not everything donated can be resold. But rather than throwing items away and filling up the landfills, the store recycles and reuses as much as possible. Pass It On has been “green” long before it was popular. PIO is proud to contribute to both the sustainability of the environment and the betterment of the community in which we operate.
As Christians, God has appointed us as stewards or managers of the possessions He has entrusted to us. In Matthew 25, Jesus teaches the parable of the talents, where we are to take what we have been given, care for and use it wisely, and multiply it. PIO operates by the mantra clearly stated in our name – Pass It On. Our main objective is to generate funds to “pass on” or donate to Southwest Chicago Christian Schools to keep tuition accessible. But in daily operations, our volunteers strive to “pass it on” in various ways and methods.
- We strive to get the most money when we resell items. We may reupholster dining chairs, sew buttons on an especially nice piece of clothing, repaint an item, repair clocks and watches, and use a lot of Old English to spruce up the furniture and bring it back to life. Volunteer Betty L. launders all of the bras and panties before they are sold. Volunteers check every electronic item to make sure it is functioning before it is placed out for sale. Miguel E. fixes lots and lots of clocks. That’s dedication!
- Clothes - Thousands of pounds of clothing are given to PIO. When clothing is stained, torn, or deemed unsellable, volunteers prepare the goods for Chicago Textile Recycling (CTR). In turn, CTR pays PIO a small stipend per pound and turns these textiles into janitorial rags and wipes. Check out their story at chicagotextilerecycling.com.
- Books – The sheer number of donated books can be overwhelming at times. PIO partners with Discovery Books (discoverbooks.com). They pick up our books that are worn and out of date and pay PIO a small stipend per pound. Discovery Books “lets stories live on by ensuring books are read again" … they donate books to literacy and community non-profit programs. Books that can’t be redistributed are recycled into new products. As of this year, they’ve recycled over 500 million pounds of paper!
- Metal – Unusable recyclable metal is collected daily, i.e., metal hangers, pots and pans, bakeware, single pieces, non-working Christmas lights, cookie tins, pop cans, etc. Our scrap man, John T., delivers these items weekly to a recycling vendor for which we again receive some compensation. Out of the landfills and more profit for Pass It On!
- Spare Parts – If an entire item cannot be resold or recycled elsewhere, volunteers take it apart and reuse the pieces! Handles and other items can be removed from furniture and placed with the metal recycling, for example.
- Most donations come in plastic bags and cardboard boxes. We recycle pounds of these items.
- PIO works with other resale stores and organizations. We donate unsellable luggage to the Cook County Police Department for dog sniffing training. We send excess furniture, winter coats, blankets, and other items to various organizations that support the community, including Roseland Christian Ministries, Homestead Thrift Store in Hammond, and Tent City serving the homeless.
Just think about the far-reaching effects your donations have on many individuals! When we work for God, He takes what we have and multiplies it beyond our imagination. PIO is blessed to be a blessing. But most importantly, by becoming involved with PIO, you are living out your faith and being a blessing as well.
Thank you for supporting Pass It On Thrift Center!