July 22, 2008

ReStore Back in Business

By Kimberly White, Northwest Florida Daily News, Fort Walton Beach

Jul. 22--FREEPORT -- Habitat for Humanity of Walton County is restoring the ReStore.

An army of volunteers, made up partly by staff from Sacred Heart Hospital, will descend on the ReStore from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday to give the facility a much-needed face-lift, including painting, patching up holes in the walls and basic cleaning.

ReStore manager Shawne Shiflett said she's extremely grateful for all the help she's so far received.

"As soon as we asked Sacred Heart for their help in the paint-and-repair day, they rallied their troops," she added.

However, any additional help -- either on Saturday or on an ongoing basis -- would also be appreciated.

Similar to Goodwill, ReStore accepts donations of everything from furniture and home decor items to appliances and building materials. Proceeds benefit Habitat for Humanity of Walton County, an affiliate of the international organization whose volunteers build homes for those living in substandard housing.

Bill Rennicke, who volunteered with Habitat for seven years before being named construction committee chairman, said anywhere from 75 to 125 volunteers help build the houses, and that each one takes three to four months to complete. Last year, he said, Habitat built of three homes in DeFuniak Springs and Mossy Head.

"Family number one had two children who were disabled and living in a small, broken-down house trailer," he recalled. "Family number two was a single grandfather bringing up six grandchildren. The final (family) was a single mother who was evicted from her substandard trailer and was basically living from friend to friend."

Rennicke said Habitat will start reviewing applications for new-home construction in September, and construction on a home for an already designated family will begin in DeFuniak Springs sometime in the fall.

Shiflett said that other than receiving donations, her greatest need is for volunteers who can drive the ReStore trucks around Walton County to pick up and drop off donated items, and volunteers who can help out in the store.

"Basically, in order for the ReStore store to really be able to support the building of houses in Walton County, it's going to take a village, it's going to take the support of the community," she added.

People from all over Walton County come to the ReStore, including Freeport, DeFuniak Springs and South Walton.

"I get artists who come in here and people who renovate furniture to resell it," she said. "Or someone's washer or dryer went out, and they can't afford to buy a new one, so they come and see me and they can get a used one for $25."

Not only are perfectly good items resold at deeply discounted prices, but those items are recycled and kept out of the landfills, and those who donate items receive tax benefits, she added.

Daily News Staff Writer Kim White can be reached at 654-6905.


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Copyright (c) 2008, Northwest Florida Daily News, Fort Walton Beach

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