Organization helping families get “Off the Floor”

Published Oct 9, 2013 at 6:02 am (Updated Oct 8, 2013 at 4:20 pm)

Autumn brings with it a time to transition from summertime and to prepare for the colder months and holidays. It can also mean clean-up time for many families.

Often items people are tired of or don’t use any more are tossed into a garbage can or left on the curb. Many times those items are in usable condition and could be salvaged.

Instead of throwing away usable items like tables, chairs and sofas, Off The Floor Pittsburgh will gladly take them.

The Christian volunteer ministry collects used furniture in good condition and disperses items to disadvantaged individuals and families. It operates from a 4,000-square-foot warehouse on Allegheny Avenue on Pittsburgh’s North Side.

Off the Floor’s reach extends beyond the Pittsburgh area to include Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Westmoreland and Washington Counties.

Bob Myers of Castle Shannon is executive director. He oversees a staff of one part-time delivery coordinator and several volunteers.

“It’s extremely rewarding work,” Myers said.

Off the Floor was founded 10 years ago when a Mt. Lebanon United Presbyterian Church member noticed two children who were always sitting on the front porch of their house. They were never playing with toys. When their mother was asked if toys could be given to the children, she replied that toys she were not her concern. She needed furniture; and so did many of her neighbors.

With a team of volunteers, the church pulled together the resources needed to help the family. Off the Floor Pittsburgh was up and running.

In 2004, the group helped about 15 families. This year the organization is on track to help more than 220 families. In fact, in August, Off the Floor helped its 1,000 person: KeVaughn Demus.

Since he was 14, Demus has lived with foster families. Although he has a mild form of cerebral palsy, the North Side native said he was “proud to be establishing some independence.” The Oliver High School graduate plans on attending barber school in January. The 23-year-old also hopes to have his driver’s license and own a vehicle by then. Demus is just one of Off The Floor’s success stories.

“There’s a huge need out there,” Myers said.

Volunteer army

On a sunny Saturday, a crew of volunteers from Mt. Lebanon United Presbyterian church met at the warehouse and helped load a truck of furniture and delivered it to families in Wilkinsburg, North Versailles and Carrick.

“I think it’s something good,” said Mike Bobak of Castle Shannon. He has been volunteering at Off the Floor for more than two years. “You get to see the benefit and that feels good,” he added.

Kristen Waugh of Dormont agreed. She has been volunteering with the organization for about three years. “I think this is a great outreach,” she said

“It struck home as something that interested me,” explained Hope Coyle as to why the Mt. Lebanon resident recently started volunteering at Off the Floor.

Kyle Bradley of Overbrook said he volunteers because, “I get to see different areas of the city and I like the one-on-one contact with the people we are actually helping.”

Off the Floor works with about 24 referral agencies like Catholic Charities, Jewish Children and Family Services and Community Human Services to find families in need of furniture.

Myers also noted the increase of married couples on Off the Floor’s client list. “There’s more than ever before,” he said. “Both parents are working, but they still can’t make ends meet.

“We want to give them everything we can,” he added.

Myers wants to help everybody he can and everywhere there is a need. For example, there is a large population of refugees in the area, especially in the South Hills. “Pittsburgh is a big hub,” he said. Myers added, too, that many clients do live in the South Hills. Off the Floor has helped families in Mt. Lebanon, Castle Shannon and parts of Upper St. Clair.

Off the Floor is a “one and done” organization because its goal is to give families everything they need so they don’t have to come back to seek additional help.

Stocking up

This time of year, Off the Floor’s inventory has been reduced so donations are needed. Right now, Myers said they are experiencing a shortage of mattresses.

Off the Floor acquires bedding and other furniture items mainly from individuals. However, the company also receives items from hotels that have remodeled and would have otherwise discarded materials.

“We keep good, usable furniture out of landfills,” Myers said. He estimates that over the years, Off the Floor has kept about 100 tons of furniture from going to the dump.

Donated furniture receives a thorough cleaning and any needed repairs are completed before being distributed.

“If it doesn’t look like the condition I want in my house, I won’t use it,” Myers said. He added that Off The Floor doesn’t throw anything out that possibly could be used on another piece of furniture.

Each family receives an estimated $1,500 in furniture. Myers said a family of four receivers an average of about 13 items.

“I don’t want anyone to have to sit at home on the floor,” Myers explained.

By the holidays, Myers’ goal is to have furniture to all of Off the Floor’s clients for the year. “We do a hard push at Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Myers said.

Myers said he is “encouraged” by the progress of the organization, but a major challenge is bringing in volunteers. Volunteers are especially needed during the weekdays. Myers explained if there are volunteers at the warehouse during the week, it would provide folks with greater opportunities to pick up and drop off furniture. He said volunteers can also help paint, clean and repair furniture. Myers emphasized that opportunities are available for people of all ages. He even encourages retirees to volunteer.

“The volunteers come back satisfied and the clients are extremely appreciative,” he concluded.

Off the Floor will holds its annual fundraiser at 11:30 a.m. Dec. 7 at the Pittsburgh Athletic Association in Oakland. The event will feature lunch and auctions.

For further information on Off the Floor, including how to donate, volunteer or purchase tickets for the fundraiser, call 412-926-5053 or go to

Items Wanted:

Furniture: couches, loveseats, chairs, end and coffee tables, dressers, bed frames, headboards, dining and kitchen tables, lamps.

Housewares: cookware, dishes, cups, glasses, silverware, utensils. small appliances, microwaves.

Bedding: frames, headboards, mattresses, box springs, linens.

Note: Upholstered items and mattresses must be stain and tear free.

To donate: Call 412-926-5053.


Donation drop-offs by appointment.

comments powered by Disqus