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A boost to recycling

Shop aims to raise funds, regional recycling efforts

Southbridge Interfaith Director Laura Kaplan in the back room of the new recycled-goods store Gracie’s Attic. The Flatiron Building store looks pretty empty at the moment, but Kaplan’s goal is to officially open early next month. Gus Steeves. (click for larger version)
November 16, 2010
If there are any words that go well with "recession," they're "reuse" and "recycle" — largely because most people can't afford new stuff.

That's what Laura Kaplan's hoping will help sustain Grace House, the local family homeless shelter. Since Nov. 1, she's been pulling together a recycled-stuff storefront called Gracie's Attic to raise funds for the shelter. It's in the Flatiron Building on Hamilton Street in Southbridge, and Kaplan's seeking donated items to fill the shelves and volunteers or people seeking community service hours to build them.

"Keeping stuff out of the landfill is a huge part of it," she said. "Over at the [shelter], we have a wet basement, so we can't store anything there. We hope to have stuff circulating through [the store instead]."

Kaplan said the idea came from a Southbridge Interfaith Hospitality Network (she's its director; it runs the shelter) member from Brimfield, who saw how effective a similar store in Holyoke had become in raising funds for a church there. Another such store in Grafton helps support Whitinsville Christian School.

"We have a significant deficit in our operating budget this year, so we hope this will bridge the gap," while also providing good used stuff and training opportunities for shelter residents, she said. Grace House receives minimal state funding, although it's still awaiting money from the town's Community Development Block Grant.

The town itself recently received $60,000 from the Department of Environmental Protection to fund its new recycling effort — a program to distribute what Recycling Coordinator Kim Grant dubs "SMART carts."

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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