Trash is treasure at the transfer station

Every Saturday, a cluttered room in an unused school building on Old Colchester Road comes alive as residents browse shelves of board games and dishes, boxes of sports equipment and piles of toys.

These Saturday Re-Use Tag Sales have been going on for years: A volunteer organization allows Montville-based non-profits to collected unwanted household items at the transfer station and raise money by selling them at the Fair Oaks School.

Sandie Gregory led the organization for 10 years, during which time she saved the town money in disposal costs, raised approximately $205,000 for non-profits and received a certificate of appreciation from the Town Council for her work.

Gregory retired in October, and the new program coordinator hopes to expand the program even further.

Kathleen Doherty-Peck, who is also the director of the senior center and the social services center, is pursuing Town Council approval to open the program to more organizations, increase its hours and allow non-Montville-based groups to participate.

"It is, when you think about, a townwide program," said Kathy Turner, who volunteers to help with the tag sales.

The tag sales help residents by allowing them to recycle household items that are still in decent shape and providing a bargain for people seeking affordable dishes, books, or toys. It saves the town money by recycling items, and the organizations that benefit from the program give back to the town.

Nonprofits "are the core of our town," said Town Councilor Billy Caron, who supports the changes proposed by Doherty-Peck.

Since she took over, the program has raised approximately $7,813 for local non-profits like the Lions Club, Boy Scouts, church centers and school groups. They make, on average, $400 per weekend, said Doherty-Peck.

She wants to allow not-for-profit organizations like the dog pound to benefit as well.

Doherty-Peck told the council's Public Works Subcommittee that the demand for tag sales has been high, so she wants to hold them on Sundays as well, possibly attracting a new group of customers.

And she hopes to allow out-of-town non-profit and organizations to participate on the dates that no local groups commit to.

Turner said she thinks the program has been becoming more popular because people are watching shows like "Storage Wars," "American Pickers" and "Flea Market Flip" on television.

"Hey, I watch (American Pickers)," said Caron, who called the re-use program a "hidden gem."

The next Re-Use Tag Sale will benefit the Center of the Blind and will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 19 at 836 Old Colchester Road.


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