The Comox Valley School District is repurposing some of its furniture.

And the staff at the Wachiay Friendship Centre couldn’t be happier.

The district recently donated a large stock of classroom furniture, and gently used custodial supplies to the centre in central Courtenay.

The items will help outfit the centre’s expansion, including its newly opened daycare centre, Clever Raven Head Start. 

Donations to the daycare include mobile chalkboards, tables for kids to do their crafts, office desks, shelving, and wall-mount units to store toys. 

The centre’s executive director, Michael Colclough, said the district donated 130 “very lightly used” heavy molded chairs that will be put to good use.

“We needed new chairs,” Colclough said. “Unfortunately the ones we use for our common areas in the kitchen and everything… they don’t hold the weight of people those ones. Every couple weeks I’m throwing out five chairs.”

Colclough said the centre provides a free seniors luncheon for seniors every Wednesday and “they’re the ones who normally complain because they’re sitting on an angle and feel like they’re falling off the seat. So now they have new chairs to sit on.”

The donated chairs will be used at the centre’s annual community Christmas dinner.

The district also donated about a dozen filing cabinets, which will go to a central filing system.  

Colclough said the donations are very much appreciated: “This is just a wonderful contribution. We couldn’t have bought this stuff. If we had to go out and buy it new, we probably would have had to spend $30,000 and we don’t have that kind of excess revenue.”

Waldorf School has also been a recipient of furnishings that are no longer required or of use in schools.

Years of giving

The district has been donating gently used classroom furniture and items for a number of years.

When manager of custodial services, René Lanoix, joined the school district in 2018, he made a concerted effort to reach further into the community to find more organizations in need of the surplus items.

“We have lots of furniture that is dated but we were having a hard time finding groups that can use this kind of furniture,” Lanoix said. 

“It’s fairly specialized.”

The school district has a history of donating its furnishings. 

Lanoix determined other schools in the valley such as Waldorf might also benefit with furniture designed for a classroom setting, so he reached out to see if there was any interest. 

Word spread in the community and soon Lanoix was contacted by Wachiay, Waldorf and Wee Care Early Childhood Centre.

“The [Wachiay] daycare are expanding and would need more furniture, so they were quite interested. Between them, the Friendship Centre and Waldorf they received a lot of desks and chairs and equipment,” said Lanoix.

Lanoix said items that are not fit for donating are disposed of in the most environmentally friendly ways possible. Wood and metal furnishings are dismantled and disposed of appropriately at local recycling depots.

“It’s a continuous cycle,” shared Lanoix. “We keep getting items on a weekly basis from all the schools that are getting rid of furniture. There’s more coming in then there is space for.”

In total, more than 150 chairs as well as two truckloads of items were delivered to the three organizations, who partnered in the rent of the truck to take delivery of donated items from the school district. 

Lanoix and his staff helped gather the furnishings and remove them from storage.

“We are grateful for their generous donation of tables, chairs, book-shelves, bulletin boards, and other various items,” said Clever Raven staff member Barbara Schneider. 

“This was extremely beneficial to us and the timing coincided perfectly with the building of our new daycare at the Wachiay Friendship Center. We are able to re-purpose these items in our centre.”

In the 2019 – 2023 Strategic Plan, the Board of Education identified sustainable practice as a key priority. 

The school district says that “repurposing and recycling is one part.” 

“Connecting with organizations and non-profit associations in need of surplus used furniture and equipment is helping the district meet the goal

of lowering its footprint while assisting with the needs of the community,” the district added.