The Impact of Donating to Athens Area Habitat ReStores


By Spencer Frye, Executive Director, Athens Area Habitat for Humanity

I’ll bet you there’s something in your home right now that you love, maybe a tool or a work of art or just some token of memory, but you have no idea where it came from — not where it was made or who owned it first or how exactly it happened to work its way to you.

Like my favorite guitar. It’s just an old pawn shop special that a local luthier refurbished for me, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. And I hope my kids end up fighting over who gets it, because then at least they’ll be thinking of me.

Of course, that guitar’s original owner had no way of knowing what the instrument would come to mean to me. And I have no idea who may come to cherish it down the road.

But what I do know, because my years at Habitat have taught me, is that when communities build communities, they share. And they preserve.

A lot of times, our contributions to charities like the Habitat ReStores get described in terms of dollar equivalents donated or cubic feet saved from a landfill. But I’m here to tell you, the things you give away go on to live new lives — sometimes very important lives.

I’ve been there to see the joy in a family’s eyes when, for the first time ever, they sit down in their own chairs, at their own table, in their own house, to a meal served on their own dishes, with their own serving spoons. And they feel that at last they have a stake in the community, and a permanent place.

And that is tremendously empowering.

So next time you bring something down to the ReStore — whether it’s your old dishes and spoons or something as mundane as a kitchen cabinet or an unused box of roofing tiles — don’t forget that it may end up being very important to someone someday. Because you never know what adventures those things might go on.

I have the enduring pleasure of being able to drive around the town I live in and point to places I helped build with friends. There’s a tremendous amount of satisfaction in that, as anyone on the building crews will tell you.

But if you’ve ever donated to Habitat, I can tell you this — although you may not know where it’s gone, a part of your life is out there somewhere, bringing shelter or comfort or safety or joy to someone.

And that’s a pretty good feeling to have.