On June 7, 2024, Floral Park adjacent to the Lewis County Transfer Station was abuzz with activity as Windermere Centralia realtors and Lewis County Master Gardeners and Recycler Composters worked diligently to sort tools for an exciting new non-profit, the Master Recycler Composters of Lewis County MRC Tool Bucket Library.

Windermere Centralia

Windermere Centralia’s Day of Giving for a Greener Future

Known for a commitment to community service, Windermere offices nationwide dedicate a day annually to volunteering together for Windermere Community Service Day. “For over 40 years, Windermere has had a community service day on the first Friday in June, where all the offices close throughout the country, and we volunteer in our communities,” shares owner Max Vogt.

Windermere Centralia
“Why didn’t we think of this before?” says MRC President Lynn Ford. “If someone is downsizing, this is a great place to give the excess too. Or if somebody is buying a new home or apartment, they can borrow instead of buying a drill to hang up the drapes or pictures.” Photo credit: Krysta Carper

The projects are hands-on, and past initiatives have included local litter clean-ups, school supply drives and helping those experiencing homelessness. This year, Windermere Centralia’s efforts focused on a unique environmental initiative – supporting the launch of the Lewis County Master Recycler Composters Tool Bucket Library.

A collaborative spirit filled the air as ten area Windermere team members eagerly dedicated their Day of Giving to the MRC Tool Library.

“We heard that there was a need and wanted to help a lot of people get access to tools in an affordable way,” says Broker-Realtor Ray Sample. “I love how there have been volunteers here for weeks, and they are just all in, ready to go and show up. To have the community together for a common cause that is bettering the area is awesome.”

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“We just like to give back and add value by being involved in the community,” says Windermere Broker-Realtor Ray Sample. “I am excited to see what the finished project will look like.” Photo credit: Krysta Carper

Lewis County Master Recycler Composter Tool Bucket Library

The MRC Tool Bucket Library, funded by a grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology, is a new concept in Lewis County. The innovative program promotes environmental responsibility and self-reliance by offering members free or low-cost access to shared tools and opportunities to reuse and repair items.

“Today is pretty amazing, and the tool library is a really neat thing,” says Windermere Realtor Lesa Bundesen. “Why go buy when you can borrow?” That sentiment was echoed by other Windermere staff. “Everyone likes to pitch in and help for our day of service, and this is such a cool idea,” says Broker-Realtor Tawni Shepherd.

“I’m surprised no one has thought about doing this here before because it’s genius,” says Realtor Matthew Critcher. “Sometimes you don’t want to spend money on a tool you use only once. It’s going to be a big help. It will clear the clutter and make people’s houses look nice, which is good for the whole community.”

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“I’ve been a recycler since I was a little kid. I think it’s really important to appreciate our resources and not to leave a trash pile for our grandkids and their grandkids,” says Master Recycler Composter volunteer MJ Marsh. “We are blessed to have a lot of stuff in our society, but it is also a curse. It’s good to be thoughtful of what we are using and how we are using it by thinking in a circular way rather than not my problem anymore.” Photo credit: Krysta Carper

MRC Tool Library membership is based on income, but contributions are not required. No one will be turned away from borrowing a needed item, but tools must be returned in one week, or late fees will occur. Simply complete an application, sign the waiver and use policy, and show your identification, stating that you are over 18 and live in Lewis County. Membership donations are used to purchase and maintain tools and consumables such as bits, blades, and equipment for the library’s operations.

“Maybe we shouldn’t even be buying all these things in the first place,” says Lynn Ford, MRC President. “Having a tool library is an opportunity for people to borrow something that they may only use once or twice a year and store it. We have the repair economy, and part of that is that before people even make a purchase, by offering a tool library, they’ll just be able to rent those materials.”

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Outside of the tool library, other Master Composter Recycler projects include Repair & Sustainability Fairs twice a year. “It’s definitely a community effort,” says Ford. “We need handy people, both men and women, to help as volunteers.” Photo credit: Krysta Carper

How to Support the MRC Tool Bucket Library

Currently, the tool library is housed in sheds and containers donated by the supportive partner to the tool library, Lewis County Solid Waste. With the desire to offer a maker’s space where people can learn to use tools and to house larger machinery, a dedicated shop is necessary for knowledgeable instructors to provide guidance and ensure safe operation.

“A permanent home is needed, ideally a pole building with parking and easy access in Centralia,” says Vogt. “We want people to get to it easily, especially if they are on the bus and in a big enough building to store everything. Hopefully, free or low rent because of the non-profit status.”

Outside of supporting the MRC’s Tool Bucket Library through membership fees, creative volunteers are always needed. People who can act as tool librarians, catalogers to track inventory, and those with the skills to fix and maintain the tools are integral to the program’s success. Additionally, those willing to teach others how to perform home repairs and sew items, give advice on gardening and yard care, and are skilled in food preservation are encouraged to give their time to the tool library.

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The MRC Tool Library is located at the Floral Park demonstration site, which features various compost systems for residents to try and a slope planted with native plants in a tire berm. “The purpose is to show how to reuse things, including organic materials, and think outside the box when reusing discarded things,” says Jason Adams, WSU Lewis County Master Recycler/Composter Coordinator. Photo credit: Krysta Carper

“We really appreciate Windermere coming and helping us,” says Master Recycler Composter MJ Marsh. “Owning your own tools is nice, but not everyone can store them. Recycling is important. It is more than just what you are putting out at the curb. It’s lifestyle choices and thinking beyond that, too.”

Donations of usable tools and supplies are welcome and are tax-deductible. Need more information? Call the MRC Tool Bucket Library at 360.520.3206 or email mrctoolbucketlibrary@gmail.com. Want to borrow a tool or make a donation? Find the library at the Floral Park Sustainability Project at 106 East Floral Street in Centralia. With a target opening date of July 13, the tool library will be open on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.


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