If you’ve ever passed an auction or garage sale offering lots of furniture, you’ve probably noticed a crowd. Furniture is an often-sought-after commodity, perhaps because its function is such a basic necessity. So use the necessity of furniture as a way to meet and form relationships with your neighbors.

Scour your attic, basement, and garage. Surely there’s a table you haven’t used in years or a chair just begging for repair. Then ask your neighbors to do the same thing. You could even go to local thrift shops, garage sales, and auctions. Who knows what treasures you may find? Then get to work!

Invite your neighbors over for a day of furniture fixing! Set up a well-ventilated work area, and purchase safety wear (gloves, face masks, and goggles). A book on the basics of furniture repair is a good idea too (check one out at your local library). Helpful Hint: Dispose of any used stripping agent in a sealed container. Be careful not to sand too heavily on veneered wood – you may sand right through the veneer.

Unless you have an experienced woodworker in your group, start with small projects. Sometimes an older piece of furniture just needs a good cleaning to be functional again, and anyone can handle that!

Once you have several pieces of furniture ready for new homes, decide how you’ll distribute your goods. You could each take home what you brought, trade furniture pieces, donate to a local charity, or have your own give-it-away neighborhood garage sale. The recipients of your hard work will remember the love you shared each time they use that piece of furniture.

Instant Intentions

While working side by side with your neighbors, take the opportunity to learn more about their interests and hobbies. By the end of the day, you should have learned enough to suggest another group-building activity to do together. 

-          From the book, Field Guide to Neighborhood Outreach by Group Publishing, 2007.

Note: This idea could be extended in a variety of ways – fixing up cars, kids’ toys, gardening tools, or sewing buttons back on clothing and other small sewing jobs. It’s a great way to get all those tedious maintenance jobs done that you’ve been putting off for a rainy day.  – Lisa Jaeger