Following a “devastating” fire in the fall of 2023, Northumberland County’s Beyond the Blue Box operation is looking to raise $3 million to rebuild or construct a new facility.
The September 2023 fire at 14 Covert Street in Cobourg was obviously a blow to the not-for-profit community-based waste reduction and reuse centre.
However, community support and new partnerships have arisen from the aftermath for Beyond the Blue Box, as it moves along its new path forward, according to board chair Robb Howells.
“Our intention is to replace/rebuild our old store, and we’re currently waiting on engineering reports before we can proceed,” Howells told kawarthaNOW.
“Since our devastating fire overnight September 19/20, 2023, we’ve had many challenges. We initially had to close our doors and not accept donations for over a month while we figured ourselves out, but things were certainly busy in the background,” he said.
“We were very fortunate that no one was hurt in the fire, and that while our main store burned, our two other buildings, which are our warehousing spaces, were undamaged.”
Because those buildings were spared, Beyond the Blue Box is still able to accept donations at 12 Covert St. in Cobourg.
“This is the only place to physically donate items to us,” Howells noted.
The centre has been active behind the scenes since the fire.
On October 15 last year, Beyond the Blue Box participated in an antique/vintage sale at the Cobourg memorial arena, which was hosted as a fundraiser for the Canadian Fire Fighters Museum.
On November 12, the centre opened its first temporary store at 66 King St. E. in Cobourg, which served as the Christmas store.
On November 18, Beyond the Blue Box participated in, and was the beneficiary of, a fundraising concert called Beyond the Blues, which featured many local Northumberland County bands and musical talent.
On December 2, the centre opened its second temporary store at 41 King St. E. in Cobourg, a thrift boutique that sells clothing, footwear, jewellery, and some housewares. The store at 66 King St. E. sells books, media, toys, housewares, and some clothes.
Those who wish to contribute financially can either make a donation via the Beyond The Blue Box website at beyondthebluebox.com, or by dropping money in the collection boxes located in the Beyond the Blue Box stores.
“The community response and outpouring of support has been tremendous,” Howells said. “We are lucky indeed.”
“That being said, we have heard from other organizations and other communities offering support too. Some of these new connections might not have been made without the fire, and it’s always good to make new friends. We look forward to having a more efficient building, and continued operation providing a safe space for all community members.”
Beyond the Blue Box is one of Canada’s longest standing and most successful community-based waste reduction and reuse centres, its website states. For 30 years, it has been accepting donations of reusable items from the community and diverting them from Northumberland County landfill sites.
With the help of community volunteers, Beyond the Blue Box collects, sorts, and resells donated items for prices “that are just enough” to cover operating costs.
The organization also prides itself on providing employee opportunities for people who have developmental needs.
Beyond the Blue Box said its team is ready to receive donations seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 12 Covert St. The centre suggests the following reasons for community members to consider donating:
- Winter is a great time to purge unused items
- Donating diverts items from the landfill and gives them new life
- Donating to Beyond the Blue Box supports its work with community organizations, including, and not limited to, women’s shelters, the homeless, victims of fire, as well as people with developmental disabilities
- Donations are more important than ever while Beyond the Blue Box rebuilds for its future after the fire.
For more information about Beyond The Blue Box, visit beyondthebluebox.com.