Michelle Robinson, executive director of Furniture Share, was watching the TV news a few nights ago. A woman who had lost everything in the recent wildfires was being interviewed.
"She pointed to a place where the house was and said, 'Right there is where my piano was,'" Robinson said.
The next day, she got a call asking if Furniture Share was accepting pianos.
"Absolutely," Robinson said.
The Corvallis-based service regularly takes furniture donations for low-income families, but after fires raged through Linn, Marion and Lane counties last week, Furniture Share is pivoting to fill a need.
The service is gearing up to provide furniture to those who lost everything.
"Normally, clients tell us what they need and when we get that item, we give it to the client, they don't choose," Robinson said. "But these are fire victims. They lost everything, and they really don't know what they need."
Furniture Share will be hosting furniture drives and splitting their inventory between normal clients and a warehouse specifically for those impacted by the fire — a warehouse they're hoping to partner with Linn County to find.
"We want to set it up like a store," Robinson said. "They can come shopping because, for example, they may see a beer stein and say, 'Oh, I used to have a collection of those.' But it's not something they would put on their need list. We want to show compassion."
To do that, Furniture Share is looking for space — a task being helped along by Linn County. It also needs a truck to move furniture to where families have settled and financial help to get the program up and running.
"If someone called today, we would take it from our regular warehouse," Robinson said.
But the group is hoping to have the new warehouse up and running within the next two weeks. Calls, Robinson said, are already coming in.
In a four-day span, Robinson said, Furniture Share received more than 100 calls and messages from people in need of furniture — mostly from people staying with friends or family.
"Maybe they have a dining table in the house they're staying in, but they're short two chairs so they can't all sit around the table," Robinson said. "Or they have a couch and they need a loveseat so they can all sit. It's these small comforts that we want to provide now."
For more information or to donate, visit funitureshare.org or call 541-754-9511.
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