If you visit the New Brighton ReStore on Wednesdays, you’ll likely find Chuck working in the back with what looks like—to most—trash. But to Chuck, that bin of trash has an immense amount of value that will contribute to ReStore and Twin Cities Habitat’s mission.
More than a decade ago, Chuck retired from his career in heating and air conditioning. He was looking to keep busy, especially in the winter season when his hobby farm wasn’t enough: “I looked at other options, but somehow I ended up here and have been volunteering since 2013.” Chuck works on ReStore's scrap team. The scrap team takes donated metals and various materials and separates them before they are transported to a recycling partner. “I used to work in heating and air conditioning, so I see a lot of similarities in this work,” said Chuck, “but what I like about this job is that after I tear things apart I don’t have to make things work again, which is a big bonus."
When Chuck and his scrap team partner arrive, they see large bins filled with scraps. Items range from pop cans, to copper piping, faucets, and more. They go through the bins to see if anything is sellable. If not, they take metals like copper, brass, and zinc and break them down. They separate these metals into their own buckets so they are organized before being recycled. “My past work helps me know what has value and what doesn’t. Copper is very valuable, and brass is the next highest in value. ReStore gets paid when we bring scraps to be recycled,” said Chuck. The bins get low in the winter, but Chuck knows this is seasonally normal. “Once spring comes around, spring cleaning kicks in and you get a full bin," he explained.
When asked why people should bring scrap metals to ReStore, Chuck replied, “It’s a good deal. The scraps have value. Rather than throw them in the trash, we can recycle it for you. Plus, you are donating to the cause.” Chuck encourages his friends to bring their items into ReStore, and he hopes others will consider this, too.
ReStore Manager Jill Carmody spoke to the importance of Chuck and the scrap team at both ReStore locations: "Chuck does a great job in our scrap metal department and provides great value in his experience. His scrapping generates extra revenue for Twin Cities Habitat’s mission, and occasionally he even brings in some delicious sweets to share with our team. Our scrap team was created in 2013 by a passionate volunteer. It is an entirely volunteer-run department at both of our stores. We currently have two people at each store that help with metal scrapping. We have a need for more [volunteers], especially in summer when our donation stream increases."
ReStore accepts household items such as appliances, building materials, doors, flooring, furniture, hardware, and so much more. Plus, your donation is tax-deductible. Check out our Donation Guidelines to learn more about donating.