A tool way to thrift

New tool thrift shop encourages donations and volunteers

By Landry Leatherwood
Photo by Landry Leatherwood
Inez Russell and Easton Preston of Friends for Life examine their tool donations on the opening day of the tool thrift shop at the new Lake Air Drive property.

430 Lake Air Drive, a now-empty consignment shop in Waco, has recently undertaken a transformation into a tool thrift shop for Friends for Life’s efforts to draw in more funds and volunteers on a more consistent basis. Inez Russell, executive director and founder, spoke to their new acquisition and their goals for the opportunity. “We are asking people to donate tools so that we can sell them to raise money for the work that we do,” she said. “We’re asking people to volunteer with us so we can have volunteers that will clean the tools, and repair them, and help us put them on the shelves and sell them.”

Aside from the opportunity for groups and individuals to volunteer and donate tools, Friends for Life intends to use the space for their program training and a toy factory, like the one they successfully ran about 20 years ago. “We have a whole other way to minister to people,” Russel said. “It’s a chance for older adults who might have retired and don’t feel like they have anything to contribute anymore—they can teach children to do things.” 

Photo by Landry Leatherwood
Inez Russell and Easton Preston hold the new sign to their new tool thrift shop building with smiles, as they take on a new way to fundraise and gain volunteers.

Kevin Lane, a member of the Hewitt Chamber of Commerce and the individual who gave Friends for Life the idea for the tool thrift shop, spoke about how the idea came about after he mentioned his knowledge of a successful tool thrift shop in Fairport, New York to both Inez and her husband at the Hewitt Chamber ribbon cutting event in January. “I thought it was a great idea for an organization to be able to raise some money on an ongoing basis rather than just a fundraiser here and there,” Lane said. 

Lane explained how the “Tool Thrift Shop” in New York has brought in about half a million dollars over the past few years, and he knew the ongoing financial need of Friends for Life would benefit from a project like this. “I want to see what it does for the people who work here, I want to see what it does for the community to bring people together,” Lane said. “It’s putting things back into use— not just tools, but people as well.” 

The Friends for Life Tool Thrift Shop’s grand opening is June 29 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at their new Lake Air Drive location. In the meantime, Friends for Life is accepting old tool donations and volunteers throughout the weeks leading up to the grand opening and are looking forward to seeing how positively this will impact not just the Friends for Life finances and client opportunity, but moreover, the Waco community at large.

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