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Hamptons Life

Sep 20, 2015 9:08 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Renovation Discards Get A Second Life For Charity

This kitchen in Southampton was donated to Renovation Angel, with the help of Mayfair Construction Group LLC. COURTESY RENOVATION ANGEL COURTESY RENOVATION ANGEL
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Sep 20, 2015 9:08 AM

Building and renovation on the East End is often bubbling with activity, and that can boil over in some unexpected ways.

"We've been doing projects in the Hamptons since 2008," said Renovation Angel founder Steve Feldman this week. The non-profit organization recycles pre-owned luxury kitchens and renovation items, including bath fixtures, home furnishings, and architectural elements.

Mr. Feldman piloted the program in Greenwich, Connecticut, in 2005, "and after the banking crisis, we started to expand to Long Island and the Hamptons," he said. That tumultuous time "forced us to diversify and do smarter marketing."

Known for its sizable homes, the East End was a natural next step for the organization. "There will always be the super-wealthy," and the East End is well known for its affluent enclave, said Mr. Feldman. "We've taken kitchens out of the Hamptons that have been worth more than a Mercedes-Benz on the market."

In July, Corcoran broker Meegan Darby made a sizable donation after purchasing a condo near St. Andrews Circle in Southampton. The brand-new luxury kitchen didn't work well for her needs, and she wanted something more representative of her style. However, she didn't want to simply throw it away either.

She snapped a few photos and sent them off to her network of 400 brokers. "I thought maybe a builder could use it for a pool house," she said. "I didn’t get one bite on it, nothing!"

Unsure of what to do next, she asked Gary Ciuffo, a high-end cabinetry maker who was working on her bathroom cabinets, and he suggested that she reach out to Mr. Feldman.

"I gave them a call on July 16, a Thursday, and by the following Monday, they were there," said Ms. Darby. Workers carefully wrapped up and carted away her high-gloss cabinetry, Glassos countertop, Liebherr refrigerator, sink, stove and microwave. The donation was appraised at $20,000, which Ms. Darby can claim as a tax write-off this year.

All high-end booty is transported to the organization's 43,000-square-foot superstore, Green Demolitions, in Fairfield, New Jersey, where it's resold for up to 90 percent off the list price. In the end, shoppers can save $50,000 to $100,000 on their kitchens.

Proceeds from these sales go to support outreach programs in the areas of at-risk youth, addiction recovery, job creation and social entrepreneurship. Every year, Renovation Angel selects a "featured outreach" to support, and this year's recipient is the Timothy Hill Children's Ranch in Riverhead, which offers a safe haven and rehabilitation programs for children and families struggling with problems related to abuse, neglect, homelessness, drug addiction and post-incarceration. The charity will be granted $50,000 become an "ambassador" for Renovation Angel on Long Island.

"I felt so good about the whole procedure," said Ms. Darby. "Here I was going green, recycling, and donating to a charitable organization at the same time. And then when I heard it was going to Timothy Hill I felt even better."

Another organization re-purposing cast-offs from East End homes is Habitat ReStore, an offshoot of Habitat for Humanity, which builds houses for those in need. The ReStores are nonprofit home improvement retail stores and donation centers that sell furniture, home accessories, building materials and appliances at a fraction of retail prices.

All of the sales from the Ronkonkoma store go to Habitat for Humanity's Suffolk County chapter, which builds between 12 and 14 houses in the county per year, according to Tom Beccarin, the donation director for that ReStore. "Right now, we're building our 180th house in Suffolk County," he said.

The bulk of those donations come from homes that are being renovated. With over 2,500 pickups per year throughout the county, Mr. Beccarin estimates that 20 percent are on the East End. "We're in the Hamptons at least once to twice per week," he said.

"We get a lot of higher-end sets that we can sell for as much as $20,000 at times from folks on the East End who are kind enough to donate to us," said Paul Camassa, the ReStore director in Ronkonkoma. These donations include kitchen sets, furniture, even crystal chandeliers. However, he added, most of the donations are of modest value, because "most people who shop here don't have that kind of money."

Ultimately, the business of recycling home discards, luxury or not, has a ripple effect of reward for all involved.

"It's a win for everybody," said Mr. Feldman. "It's a win for the homeowner, the buyer, us, and for charities."

To learn more about Renovation Angel, call 973-461-2344. To learn more about Habitat for Humanity's Suffolk County ReStore in Ronkonkoma, call 631-521-7789.

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