Modern life somehow seems to require the constant collection of one thing: clutter. But a unique collaboration that the City of Lakewood has established with Lakewood-based nonprofit Arc Thrift provides residents with the opportunity to declutter their homes while helping fund services for residents throughout Jefferson County who are disabled.
Now in its fifth year, the City’s Cleanup Day has been a resounding success. This year, more than 1,000 vehicles dropped off in one day more than 200,000 pounds of unwanted appliances, furniture and other material in October. The event’s tie to Arc Thrift, which sells reusable items to pay for disability services, makes the event even more meaningful for residents.
“Residents are thrilled. Folks are just so happy,” says Allison Scheck, public engagement and operations manager for Lakewood’s Community Resources Department. She says residents tell those operating the event, “Thank you for partnering with Arc Thrift on this. Some people only come with donations for Arc Thrift. Others have a mixture of items. Really, folks are just so happy and thankful.”
The project originated from Lakewood’s City Council because residents were making so many requests for a way to get rid of electronics and old furniture, but the event also aligns with the City’s ongoing efforts to minimize waste and encourage sustainable living, Scheck says. The collaboration with Arc Thrift enables the City to fulfill this need with its existing resources while working with a trusted partner that is an expert in recycling to ensure maximum benefit to residents.
“We recycle nearly all product that comes through as donations that we cannot sell at the store level and therefore have contacts in place to assist with recycling just about anything,” says Brian Tasler, operations manager with Arc Thrift. “We also have the labor force and trucking departments available to assist with a project of this sort. It takes a lot of people to coordinate, but in the end is well worth the effort we put in.”
Scheck notes that Arc Thrift’s expertise allows the City “to easily deal with the thousands of pounds of televisions, electronics, steel, refrigerators and mattresses that are collected during Cleanup Day.” This year’s event was no exception, diverting more than 56 percent of the dropped off material from the landfill.
The collaboration is important to Tasler’s organization because it “is committed to community recycling since it fits into our thrift store model,” he says. Cleanup Day also creates “a dual benefit in that we divert a large volume of items that might otherwise take up space at a landfill while arc benefits from the donations received.”
Arc Thrift stores here have contributed more than $60 million dollars during the last 12 years to 14 local chapters of The ARC, which is a national organization dedicated to assisting those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.