A Facebook group called Buy Nothing Costa Mesa immediately caught Marian Wildman’s attention. She liked what she saw and decided to join the group.
Transactions take place between members in the form of a post on the group’s Facebook page where they can both request and offer items to offer.
“After living in the same house in Costa Mesa for 52 years, I’m trying to declutter,” Wildman said. “I gave a lot of good things [through the Buy Nothing group] to the people who really need it.
Among her gifts were a vintage American clock, mirrors, a juicer, stuffed animals, a range hood and a Shark electric mop that 65 people wanted, forcing her to draw a picture to determine the lucky winner.
Wildman explained that some of the more popular items offered for free on the site can attract up to 100 people.
Following social distancing protocol in these times of a pandemic and to avoid thefts from porch hackers, Wildman usually puts his gifts in the spotlight just before the person is about to arrive.
Wildman, who prefers to give rather than receive, found herself making requests during the pandemic when grocery store shelves were cleaned.
“I asked for Minute Rice and got a notice from a member who had an extra box and was happy to bring me some,” said homebound Wildman.
“Another time I was looking for Pam cooking spray and someone contacted me and offered to look for it. She went to two stores looking for it. When I said to her, ‘I wish you hadn’t done that,’ she said, ‘I’m more than happy to do it.’ And that is the raison d’être of this group.
Brooklynn Kendall and Brandice Strotman currently share administrative duties for the 2,824-member Buy Nothing Costa Mesa group, which began in 2015 with 800 members.
“It’s a lot of work with 15-20 membership requests per day, but it’s worth it to see how the community thrives.” said Kendall, who was recruited to become a director in 2019 by the previous director.
The job of a volunteer administrator is to make sure that everyone follows the principle of not buying anything, freely gives rules established by the central hub of Project do not buy anything like making sure there is no exchange of money and that donations take place in the community where you live.
With 4 million community members, the project has grown into a global network of local gift economies where real neighbors come together sharing with a common goal of creating a positive environmental impact.
“It’s a great neighborhood group, generally everyone gets along and takes care of each other,” said Strotman, who is an active user. “I pretty much redecorated my entire ground floor from this site and these are things that didn’t go to the landfill.”
Kendall agrees that this is a great way to gift someone something to use verses to throw in the trash.
“The group is really a community of friendships; I met neighbors, otherwise I wouldn’t have met them, ”Kendall said. “It’s such a dynamic group of people from different backgrounds.
Christine Bliss, an avid gardener with a green thumb, said she joined the group to be able to donate her plants, many of which went to a woman who rode a bicycle whenever she came to collect plants.
“But when a coffee press appeared [as a giveaway on the site], I asked the donor, who was the cyclist, if she could wait for my husband to come home with the car because mine was out of service, ”said Bliss. “She lives down the street and ended up riding a bike with the press.”
Members don’t hesitate to deliver items, even when it takes them out of town. Elisa Piazza wanted the fully electric hospital bed that had been given to her 81-year-old friend, who lived in a nursing and care home. The only problem was that she would need help transporting him from Balboa Island to Mission Viejo.
Another member, Tho Tran Trefz, responded to Piazza’s message asking someone with a truck: “I have a truck and I can help you with the delivery.”
A collective effort was then put in place, with the loan offer of a ramp for the heavy bed. Then two men who are also members of the group volunteered to help load it.
Piazza, who moved from Italy to Costa Mesa 31 years ago, looked after her friend who was also from Italy and was alone and in poor health.
“Tho is so kind to offer help and pay her back,” Piazza said. “I’m sure it’s coming back to you even if you don’t expect it.”
Tran Trefz was also touched by Piazza’s generosity. “I saw a lot of them in the Costa Mesa group,” she said. “They helped a homeless man get everything he asked for to help furnish a house, then gave him a bicycle so he could find a job and get back on his feet.”
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