Making the Connection: Furniture for the Duckworth School

It is all about making the connection. Each year, countless items of furniture (and other items) head to the landfill because the connection is not being made between those looking to unload perfectly usable furniture, and those looking for furniture.

Last fall, while attending an Apartment and Office Building Association’s (AOBA) community service committee meeting, Great Forest staff recognized an opportunity to make such a connection. We tapped into our network of reuse organizations to assist the Duckworth Regional School in Beltsville, Maryland.

AOBA has been partnering with the school for 20 years, helping them with a number of projects to improve the school’s  ability to serve its special needs students and beautify its campus.

IMG_7647At the meeting, we learned that the school needed furniture for its Independent Living classroom, where students learn household chores and tasks, such as making a bed.

Great Forest staff immediately thought of A Wider Circle, an organization that provides free furniture to families in need or people living in poverty in the greater Washington, D.C. area.

While coordinating the donation took some time due to the unpredictable D.C. winter, we finally met in March at A Wider Circle’s huge warehouse.

IMG_7643Accompanied by David Troust and Christine McCoy from Great Forest, Duckworth Principal Lisa Wenzel met with Anne Thompson, A Wider Circle’s Deputy Director, who was ready with a group of young volunteers.

Principal Wenzel selected a range of items for the school, including two large wooden desks for the school’s front office to replace desks that were literally “falling apart”.

For the Independent Living classroom, Wenzel chose a dining room table, storage hutch, bed frame, nightstand, storage bins, a leather couch, and a rocking chair.

IMG_7655_2Principal Wenzel was particularly happy about the rocking chair.

“It’s perfect for our autistic students. They love to rock; it calms them and helps them relax,” she told us.

“We feel great about our donation,” said Thompson, “I hope it brings much joy!”

Left to right: Lisa Wenzel, Principal, Duckworth Elementary; Christine McCoy, Sustainability Consultant, Great Forest; Anne Thompson, Deputy Director, A Wider Circle; David Troust, V.P. of Business Development, Great Forest


Recently, we worked with Avalon Bay Communities to make a similar connection, helping them reuse and recycle hundreds of pieces of old poolside furniture.

So the next time your office renovates, upgrades or move, think about connections you can make.  Look for organizations like A Wider Circle that take donations.

If the items are too old to reuse, look to recycle them. The best sustainable solution for old furniture is still to reuse or recycle them.  And it can be done.  We just all have to make the connection.

Check out the donation assistance page for help making connections.

Photographs: Gregory Mitchell

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