Re-Use-It Centre celebrates successful first year 

"A lot of people feel the Re-Use-It Centre has gone above and beyond everybody’s wildest hopes. It was an idea long overdue and we are very happy with the progress of the store."

It’s a year since the Re-Use-It Centre first opened its doors in Function Junction and centre co-ordinator Maureen Liddy will be among the locals celebrating the first anniversary of the charity store on April 7, 2001.

The re-use and re-cycling philosophy was first put into practice by Whistler Community Services Society, when it starting accepting donations of pre-loved and unwanted goods last March. And it hasn’t looked back, with a steady progression of clients and goods in and out of its bulging premises.

Liddy says one of the centre’s key objectives is to reduce landfill waste by recycling clothing, appliances, sports equipment and furniture in good condition. Occasionally less common treasures end up in the drop-off area, such as mounted moose heads and a bear rug – the latter being donated to the Whistler Museum. Liddy says 90 per cent of customers live locally and it’s clear that the re-use-it theory works.

"A lot of transient people come by to set up their apartments and when they leave they bring it all back as a donation, truly recycling again and again."

In a bid to highlight the style and surprises that can be found at the store, the anniversary celebrations will include a fashion show – generated entirely by clothing off the centre’s racks. Staff member Sonya McCarthy says "local celebrities" are currently being tempted to strut their stuff on the catwalk – i.e. a stretch of recycled carpet from the centre to outside the building.

"We’re hoping to get some of Whistler’s most established locals to showcase some of the great clothes we get in here," she laughs. "A local hairdresser can style the models’ hair, and they will get to chose three or four outfits to wear during the show."

The models can also take the outfits home if they wish, she adds.

If that isn’t enough to whet the appetite of those watching, a follow-up "wagon of hors d’oeuvres" donated by local restaurants is sure to do the trick. McCarthy says a letter requesting donations has already gone out to local business owners and the response has been great.

"There’ll be plenty of delicious food available on the day and lots of door prizes, such as gift certificates from Wedge Rafting, Whistler Air and other outdoor adventure specialists."

A new painting from well known B.C. based artist Robert Batemen will also be raffled off and many items will be on sale.

Rather than keeping the money raised by the Re-Use-It Centre inhouse, funding is driven back into the wider community. Liddy says approximately 18 other social assistance groups receive either financial or equipment donations, as well as emotional and information support.

"We put goods aside such as blankets for WAG and welcome other volunteer groups to work in the store and earn money for their own organization."

General volunteers are also encouraged to help the centre run its daily noon to 5 p.m. opening hours. "We will gladly put anyone to work and every hour you work gives you a $5 voucher to spend on store merchandise," Liddy says.

Anyone who donates items for the anniversary day can receive a tax receipt if they provide an invoice. The anniversary celebrations runs from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday April 7.

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