'Bank' recycles office equipment Firms donate surplus items to non-profits


Move over aluminum cans and waste paper, the Community ResourceBank of Maryland is recycling something heftier: office equipment.

For a nominal annual membership fee, CRB will provide non-profit organizations with used and surplus office furniture and equipment.

The various equipment includes desks, computers and work stations donated by businesses to foster corporate goodwill in the community.

"This is unique," said Darlene Frank, a volunteer who heads CRB's public relations committee. "It's the first time surplus equipment is being offered."

Those organizations that have federal tax-exempt status under Section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code or are community-based organizations registered with Citizens Planning and Housing Association can qualify.

CRB, itself a non-profit agency, was formed in the summer of 1989 and is a partnership between the Citizens Planning and Housing Association, the Health and Welfare Council, the Maryland Food Bank and the United Way of Central Maryland. It maintains a warehouse of equipment and uses a database to match donations and requests.

So far, there are about 50 members and 60 donors, including Crown Central Petroleum Corp., the Baltimore Skipjacks, Aetna Life and Casualty Co. and Sweetheart Cup, Frank said.

"I think it's a very unique method of recycling that's often overlooked," Frank said. "It's a great way for non-profits to get up and running quickly. It's considerably cheaper, too."

The Rev. Edwin Matos, director of Westminster's New Life for Girls, a residential drug- and alcohol-rehabilitation program for 15 women, said CRB saved him hundreds of dollars when he received typewriters, desks, matching bookcases and wall art.

"They've really been a blessing," he said. The center's previous furniture and equipment were old and non-functioning, he said.

"We furnished three offices with these donations," he said. "You add that up and that's quite a bit of money."

James W. Strotman, general manager and superintendent for Aetna Life and Casualty here, said his business gave CRB 108 desks and 276 chairs when Aetna moved from 100 S. Charles St. to Hanover Street.

"My original thought was to sell or trash these items," Strotman said. "But. . . I was delighted to learn that CRB would take everything we needed to move out and turn it all over to some non-profit who needed it."

CRB's giving is rooted in its four partners, all of whom did some kind of brokering before they joined.

CPHA brokered building supplies to neighborhoods; the Health and Welfare Council brokered group insurance; the United Way was providing gifts-in-kind; the Maryland Food Bank brokered food.

The amount of the annual membership fee depends on the size of the non-profit organization. If a non-profit's annual operating budget is up to $250,000, for example, it pays $10. If the budget exceeds $1 million, the group pays $100.

Non-profits also pay delivery or user fees when they receive equipment.

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