During our first full year of operation (2018), we averaged 36 people coming through the door during a 4-hour period. As of July 31, we now average
60 people during each 4-hour stint, and we have approached 100 a couple of times! Donations of items and cash have already steadily increased.
In 2018, we sampled the weight of all items being taken from the Free Market, to estimate how many tons we are keeping out of the landfill. At the end of that year, the estimate was 46.4 tons, saving the County $2,551 in tipping fees at the Regional Landfill. We began this project again in April, weighing every item taken one week a month. At the end of next March, we will have an accurate estimate of how that tonnage has increased.
In 2021, we began the Medical Equipment Lending program, with wheelchairs, walkers, canes, crutches, bedside commodes and shower chairs available to anyone who needs them for as long as they need them. In the past few months (thanks to a wonderful article by Shannon Watkins), this activity has really increased. To date, we have loaned 106 items to 80 grateful customers. We have trouble keeping enough wheelchairs. If you have a wheelchair that is not being used, please consider letting us lend it out through this program.
The Outreach Program, which provides like-new housewares and linens to people who are starting over (due to a fire, homelessness, etc.) requires a referral from an agency or church, someone who can attest to the situation. This has not been used as often as we would like, and we will persist in educating community helpers about how to access this resource.
We have also built a wonderful team of volunteers, cheerful and helpful, who have great ideas for making the Free Market even better. Onward and upward!