SOUTHWEST HARBOR — At the EMR transfer station, a group of volunteers is taking seriously the adage that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
In a small, green tent located behind the check-in building is a donation-based shop called Transfer Treasures.
In it one can find practical items such as a sewing machine, dishes, a pressure cooker with canning jars, chairs or a space heater.
There are plenty of treasures as well, like a glass globe hanging lamp, vases, picture frames and oversized golden chalices.
All of the items are donations either gathered from the dump or redirected on their way to the trash pile.
Transfer Treasures is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays from May to October. Items in the tent are sold on a donation basis; people give what they can afford.
“The people who know come and bring things,” said Jill Freundlich, who volunteers every Saturday. “It’s mostly word of mouth … I love to meet the people. I meet wonderful, wonderful people.”
“If somebody comes in and says they don’t have any money, I just let them take what they want,” said Freundlich. “It’s fun to see what people take.”
At the end of the season, a portion of the donations collected go to the Westside Food Pantry.
“They do the most good,” said Freundlich about the voucher-based food pantry. In the last few years, Transfer Treasures has donated about $600.
“We’re very grateful every year that they decided to partner with us,” said Dean Henry, director of the Westside Food Pantry. “That money all adds up … Absolutely every donation is important to raising the amount needed for these vouchers.”
It is not clear how long Transfer Treasures has been at the EMR facility on Long Pond Road. Freundlich remembers shopping there with a friend many years before she decided to spend her Saturdays volunteering in the building.
“This place was open when I first got here,” she said, adding that she and her husband bought property in Southwest Harbor in 2002.
At one point, students from Pemetic Elementary School, under the guidance of former principal Dianne Helprin, participated in a project that aimed to reduce the weight of waste from the landfill.
“The point was to remove the recycling footprint as much as they could,” said Freundlich. “They removed the footprint by weighing everything they took here.”
When she first began volunteering at the building five or six years ago, Freundlich continued to weigh and record each item as it was taken. At the end of the season she would turn in money collected, along with the recorded weight total to the Town Office.
Eventually, Freundlich realized no one was keeping track of the weight, so she discontinued that practice. But, she decided to donate some of the proceeds to an organization in Southwest Harbor and chose Westside Food Pantry.
“It takes a very large community effort,” said Henry. “Eighty-two percent of money we raise comes from individual donors.”
When asked what valuable items she has seen pass through Transfer Treasures, Freundlich mentions dishware that may have been Belleek Pottery. She remembers it was thin enough to see light through.
“There may be things that are valuable that I wouldn’t even know,” Freundlich said. “The surprising thing is what people will want.”