Volunteers help at a Habitat for Humanity home

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Small Business Donations Replenish Habitat ReStores in Williamsburg, Newport News

Ever look around the Habitat for Humanity ReStores in Newport News and Williamsburg in awe at the eclectic collection of, well, everything?

Most shoppers know that Habitat ReStores accept donations from homeowners, but local small businesses contribute regularly to the evolving inventory, too.

“Whenever a small business donates to us, it’s huge,” said Jennifer Pye, Procurement Manager at the Habitat ReStores in Newport News and Williamsburg. “They are taking a piece of their business, their blood sweat and tears, and giving it to us in support of our community. It can be easier to just throw things away or stick them on the curb. It means so much when they take the time to ensure it gets to our store.”

ReStore proceeds support the mission of Habitat for Humanity Peninsula and Greater Williamsburg – building homes and hope in the local community.

Whitt Corporation frequently donates. The design/build construction firm renovates homes in Williamsburg, primarily replacing cabinets, appliances and fixtures in kitchens and bathrooms.

“A lot of times, what’s coming out is really good stuff; the client is just making a change,” said Manager Krystal Matthews. “We donate full kitchens with granite countertops.”

Shoppers looking to update their homes are often pleasantly surprised by the variety the ReStore carries. You can find wood and trim that’s cherry, oak, maple and mahogany. Sinks, vanities and tile are often brand new. Tile is still in boxes.

“The ReStore is the neatest thing ever; everyone I know shops at the ReStore,” Matthews said. “I just bought a desk there that I refurbished, and it’s gorgeous in my home. I’m in the ReStore probably three times a week, and my sister shops there five days a week.”

Like Habitat, Whitt Corporation works to divert perfectly good materials from landfills.

“What Habitat for Humanity does for the community is fantastic,” Matthews said. “It gives people opportunities that they might never have had. The ReStore allows builders and contractors and everyday people to donate things that are certainly usable and serviceable. The prices are reasonable, and proceeds help others build their dream home. It’s a win-win for everybody.”

The ReStore also partners with The Junkluggers, which specializes in eco-friendly removal of unwanted items in its service area, which includes Newport News, Yorktown, Greater Williamsburg and Toano. Zach Kirkpatrick, manager of the Williamsburg location, said roughly 50% of items received can either be donated or recycled.

“Anything we can donate, we do,” Kirkpatrick said. “Habitat is our favorite place to donate. Every time we pull up, they’re excited to see us. They’re always willing to help. It’s a really good partnership that we’re excited to be part of.”

The Junkluggers is a franchise with approximately 90 locations nationwide and a mantra that attests to “Saving the World, One Lug at a Time.” The first partner Kirkpatrick connected with two years ago when the Williamsburg franchise opened was Habitat. “They were very receptive to the idea. Ever since then, we donate to them almost on a daily basis.”

In addition to furniture, Junkluggers donates housewares and DVDs frequently, anything except clothes, which the ReStore does not accept. Sometimes pianos and hot tubs are dropped off, when the ReStore has space for them.

Williamsburg Estates also donates to the ReStore, a relationship that goes back nearly a decade. Laura Kinsman operates the company that specializes in estate sales and helping seniors downsize.

Items in good condition are always remaining after an estate sale. Williamsburg Estates often donates those items to the Williamsburg ReStore.

“Originally, convenience was a factor. They were just around the corner, so it made sense to donate to them,” Kinsman said. “But over the years, they’ve really accommodated any requests we have. They’re wonderful to work with.”

That was especially true at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when many businesses were forced to close for months. Williamsburg Estates did not close and was running out of space to store all the excess donations. The Williamsburg ReStore came up with a contactless solution — parking one of its 16-foot box trucks in the company’s parking lot for Williamsburg Estates to fill up gradually.

“Once it was filled up, they replaced it with a new truck,” Kinsman said.

ReStore trucks remain onsite there today whenever possible. Williamsburg Estates cleans out three to four homes a week, so the supply is ample.

“One of my main goals in the business is to get as much back out into the world to be used as possible,” Kinsman said. “The ReStore helps us do that.”

Interested in having your business donate to the ReStore? Whether you want to donate once or set up regular donations, email Pye at jennifer@habitatpgw.org.

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We help as many families as we can, but the lack of decent and affordable housing remains a critical problem in our area. By donating, you will provide upfront funding for building materials and services that makes interest-free loans to Habitat partner families possible. Habitat partner families help to build their own homes - alongside volunteers - and pay an affordable mortgage. Your monetary donations enable us to continue building strength, stability and independence for future local families.