The “Take and Leave” volunteer program started in 2007 as a result of budget cutbacks by the Town Government that would have closed the T&L area. Resident Joany Sasso developed the idea of volunteers running T&L and F.O.R. served as sponsor and facilitator to get the Town to try the program. It has continued to improve and grow since. It enables residents to “shop” (Take) and turn one person’s cast away (Leave) into another’s treasure. Our goal is to constantly improve the experience for those who use the T&L.
F.O.R. currently has over 100 members with over 35 active volunteers at T&L over the course of a season. The opening and operating of the reusable area starts early in April and continues up until the first week in December depending, of course, on the weather. The T&L area is over 3,000 square feet and has the same operating schedule as the RDF recycling facility. F.O.R. volunteers are formally trained to work at the Take and Leave site and offered flexible hours to work. Each working shift is managed by a captain along with 3 to 10 volunteers depending on the day. These members work to keep the area safe and clean and to assist residents with any loading or unloading of items. A broad range of items may be left per signs posted clearly at the site.
The duties of the volunteers include:
Treat all residents with respect and courtesy.
Assist and support residents with items to be left or taken
Keep area clean and safe
Enforce all rules of engagement
Be on time for shift as assigned
Replace yourself if you cannot fill your assigned shift
Recycle all items as applicable
Some of the environmental benefits to having a reusable area in Wellesley include:
Diverting large item waste from expensive landfills (cost avoidance)
Allowing Wellesley residents to dispose of large and reusable items safely
Reducing trash: adds to the bottom line of town savings
Providing a safe and clean reusable area for residents
The dollar benefits to the Town have been quantified as approximately $85,000+ annually. This is an estimate based on the total volunteer hours plus cost avoidance weight of reused and recycled material plus the weight of sold recyclables at the average cost per ton of tonnage at the Take and Leave area.
Detailed analyses highlights 2007 are available. A summary is that volunteers log 4104 hours per year, typical weight of items recycled from the T&L is about 85 tons which means that over 200 tons total are dropped off at the T&L. This estimate is based on the consistent observation that about 2/3 of the material that comes into the T&L is taken by other residents which means about 1/3 is recycled.
We're always looking to find enough volunteers to staff the operation those 4104 hours. We make it easy for one to join. One must be a resident, have health insurance and take a formal training of about 90 minutes. If under 18 they must have parental permission. We have volunteers from age 12 to 90.
One of the extra benefits for senior volunteers is that their working may offset some of their town property taxes. See the tax relief program from the Town of Wellesley Council on Aging (781-235-3961) to learn how to qualify and request tax relief.
F.O.R. Take and Leave Headquarters at the RDF
Above left - Take and Leave Headquarters at the RDF; Above Right - Flo Hearn, Joanny Sasso, Joanne Jones at the Town of Wellesley Volunteer Fair
There are many anecdotes of people finding all types of treasure at the T&L. Some residents have completely furnished their vacation homes with items from the T&L. Someone built a garage with used wood from the site. Several residents use their 30 minutes of “shopping” time each day to find sporting equipment or stuffed animals or the like to donate to underprivileged kids. Altogether the T&L provides many, many residents with a good place to leave items that are still quite usable or new and/or have fun taking the items others have left.
The Wellesley RDF personnel and management especially Gordon Martin RDF Supervisor support and help the volunteers in many ways. It’s a great relationship for both parties and the Town gets the added benefits noted.
For several years we have had a "Yankee Holiday Swap" where we exchange gifts in the Yankee Swap fashion as well as have a pot luck dinner party that's is a great deal of fun! There are a couple of pictures below.
CONTACT TO VOLUNTEER: Call Kathy 781-235-7600 x3342 for info
The Yankee Swap and potluck celebration is always a lot of fun!