Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
With families getting ready for permanent change-of-station moves, there may be some bulk items that families are unable to take with them or no longer have a use for. Instead of throwing the unwanted or unneeded items away, Fort Leavenworth Frontier Housing Communities has found a way for residents to help those in need.
Since November 2019, FLFHC has been partnering with City Union Mission Christian Life Center of Kansas City, Mo., to pick up bulk “trash” items the second Saturday of the month.
“I went to the first guy that could make it happen,” said Joe Gandara, FLFHC community director.
Jim Cowan, FLFHC housing inspector, originally put Gandara in contact with the Mission after both he and Gandara saw that residents were throwing out reusable items. Cowan used to work with the Disabled American Veterans charity in Missouri, the larger entity of the City Union Mission.
“Since I personally know them, I reached out to them,” Cowan said. “Joe was very accommodating about trying to find a date that worked for everybody.
“We just drove down there and talked to them, and they were overjoyed at the opportunity to (help),” he said. “They are still trying to help their communities.”
Rick Andrews, City Union Mission operations manager, said they didn’t hesitate to help.
“The Mission’s goal is to help everybody they can to help them grow in life and be better in life, so for us to help the military is just one step further for us to do that because they need all the help they can get and our support,” Andrews said. “By helping them do that and helping them be more green, it just shows that we’re there to support them any way we can and help us move further in keeping our lands cleaner.”
Residents can donate any item deemed in reusable shape, except mattresses, cribs and child car seats, which the Mission cannot resell. Trash needs to be kept separate from items being donated.
“If there is any question about what’s in the bag, (the Mission) might not pick it up,” Gandara said.
On Feb. 8 and Feb. 10, more than 7,000 pounds of items were picked up by the Mission. Items included bicycles, large area rugs, couches, reclining chairs and more.
“Everybody wins. I pay less money because I don’t pay for tipping fees to haul it off to the dump (on bulk-trash pickup day). The environment wins because the dump isn’t being filled with stuff that can be reutilized,” Gandara said. “The Mission wins because they actually sell the stuff to help people. The resident wins because they get rid of the stuff, and they feel good about getting it repurposed, and we give them a tax form to write it off their taxes.”
As spring gets closer, Gandara said there will be more opportunities for families to donate their unwanted items to the Mission.
The postwide yard sale is scheduled for April 25. The City Union Mission will pick up any unsold bulk items from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 26 in addition to the normal second Saturday of the month pick-up.
“People only have to take it to the curb once (after the yard sale),” Cowan said. “You get rid of it regardless.”
Also, over the summer there will be a 53-foot tractor trailer parked near Hancock Gate for residents to drop-off any items they want to donate.
“We love doing it as much as you guys give us the opportunity,” Andrews said.
“I don’t necessarily call myself an environmentalist,” Gandara added, “but it is just good not to throw something away that can get reused for a good purpose.”