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2011 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Extras for Creative Reuse Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Arts Education, Environment, Recycling

Mission: Our mission is to stimulate creative learning and help children awaken their creative potential in education and play through the use of reusable, recycled, and surplus material.

Results: Every year we save close to a million dollars in materials that would have been discarded, and put them back into the community.

Target demographics: Greater Boston Educators and Artists

Direct beneficiaries per year: Over 70,000 children, educators, and artists benefit from our supplies every year.

Programs: We also offer workshops.

Community Stories

30 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Faye D.

Client Served

Rating: 5

As a freelance puppeteer I am so grateful for Extras for Creative Reuse! Having access to reusable materials allows me to keep excellent art based workshops affordable and accessible for schools and community groups. Using their materials also helps me teach participants about reusing and recycling by link the puppet workshops into curriculum around issues of environment and responsible consumerism.

In my personal work Extras has also been an incredible resource! My newest show is over 75% materials from Extras for creative reuse. Funding children theater is challenging, Extras helps offset the thin budgets I have to work with. Using their materials also creates an interesting relationship between material and story content - sometimes it's the proposition of the supplies I get from Extras that defines what the story will be.

Examples of work using primarily materials from Extras for Creative Reuse:

Image 4:
I SPY Dog Puppet is 100% materials from Extras: faux fur body / rubber stopper nose
Image 3:
I SPY BUTTERFLY Set is 90% materials from Extras: high density foam core (tree and grass) / brown & green large roll paper (grass and tree covering) / blue corporate folding display (free standing backdrop)
Image 2:
Children's Puppet Making Workshop is 85% materials from Extras: 3 piece of felt per puppet (body & arms) / 1 piece of adhesive felt (head) / fur,ribbon, stickers,crayons (decorations for body) *over the past 6 years over 2000 children in a dozen different institutions have made these dynamic puppets
Image 1:
Giant Puppet Community Project with WIC is 85% materials fro Extras: architecture tubes (hands) / insulation foam (hands & hair) / 15 yards fabric (body & hat) / fabric paint (body)

Board Member

Rating: 5

Extras for Creative Reuse not only saves the most amazing and extraordinary items from being discarded into landfills, but provides them to the rest of us at little or no cost! While saving the Earth, and our environment, by reusing, recycling, and repurposing, Extras gives me, a fiber artist, along with other artists, teachers and educators, materials that would have otherwise been unavailable, forever lost to one too many landfills.

In addition to the fun of exploring the inventory of items at Extras, is the discovery of unusual items! Every day there is something different!

There are well over a ton of materials that Extras saves yearly from being disposed of, and in just one visit you will see how very true that really is!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Im a school teacher and use Extras for furniture...supplies and books...amazing place!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Extras is a great non-profit with an amazing dual-purpose mission: provide creative materials while keeping perfectly good "trash" out of the landfills. Everything you can get there still has lots of life left and can be repurposed or used for anything your creative (or not-so-creative, as in my case) mind can dream up. It's perfect for teachers, artists and even accountants like me who like to make things for fun. I never have to worry or have stress about "messing up" or wasting materials because it was all going to be discarded anyway if not for Extras. The staff at Extras work incredibly hard to source great stuff and keep it moving, all while managing the record keeping, fundraising, fielding phone calls, and all the other back office work that keeps any business running. I recommend that anybody check it out. Look over the hours, membership options and other rules online before you go, and you will have a great experience. Bring a friend. Even if you can't or don't want to use the materials, you can support the effort to reuse and recycle by donating or volunteering!

Mary100

Client Served

Rating: 5

As a program manager, the resources available to me from Extras for Creative Learning were cost saving and mission serving. Staff used supplies that were recovered scraps or waste from industry that might have otherwise ended up in a landfill. Lengths cut from the mylar roll ends were especially valuable for making kaleidoscopes and saved a lot of money sourcing shiny flexible material. Staff at Extras are dedicated to repurposing industry leftovers for the benefit of those with limited resources.

Yolanda2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

I use EXCEL for supplies for my residents in an assisted living facility for people with Alzheimers. They always have something I can use to turn into a fun craft or art project. I also take my children to get supplies they use for school and homework. Excel has lots of books and my 6year old loves to get material and make clothes for her dolls and stuffed animals.

Client Served

Rating: 5

EXCL is an extraordinary organization! I visit at least 6-8 times a year and gather bags upon bags of materials to use in my practice as a local speech-language pathologist. I have gotten numerous used/new binders, which I have used to create communication books for nonverbal children. I have gotten hundreds of tab dividers for the binders, which serve a purpose of organizing events/topics within the communication binders. I have gotten crayons, paper, and other materials that are not available in stores (cardboard tubes, sticky-back foam) to enhance creative projects for learning. I don't have to buy Christmas cards for years (and they are brand new!). I purchased 24 inch white boards for $5 a piece...that is unheard of! EXCL is an alternative way to assist my creative and professional needs. It is a great way to support recycling and repurposing of material.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Extras for Creative Learning is an amazing resource for my work as a child therapist. I can get tremendous amounts of materials for my clients to use in creative, therapeutic work.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Extras for Creative Learning is a great resource for teachers and artists. There is always an abundance of interesting and surprising materials and the costs of membership are unbelievably low. I would recommend Extras for Creative Learning to anyone hoping to inexpensively supply their classroom, studio, or home with unusual materials and objects.

Client Served

Rating: 5

ExCL has been one of my go to places for supplies for the last 10 years as an art teacher and artist. It is so fun to see what they will have each time. It has saved me thousands to dollars and brought hours of fun challenges to my students. I tell everyone I know about it. Everyone that works at ExCl are natural problem solvers and love talking about and sharing ideas. Truly a treasure.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I love volunteering at EXCL. I love unpacking boxes and not knowing what delightful randomness I'll find inside. I love bouncing craft ideas off Jodi, the Director, and hearing her creative suggestions. I love seeing Clyde, the best dog ever. And I love hearing all the people who come to get stuff for their classrooms/art projects. I really enjoy hearing what they plan to do with their fun finds! EXCL is a great place to shop for cheap, too (the average person gets about $300 work of stuff per visit... and with $50 for 6 visits, that's just an incredible deal). You never know what you'll find. I highly recommend it.

Kym M.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

i love this place...they always have the best stuff, i find so many things for art projects and home decorating, i would like to disagree with a comment that was left about the woman jodi that runs the store, first i can't believe anybody would have a bad thing to say about her professionally or personally. she is extremely helpful, and pleasant. she will go out of her way to help you with any question you have or suggesting projects to do with the supplies, i think she makes the whole experience a pleasure to shop there, and her dog is cute too. you also can't beat the price $50 for 6 visits , i hope they never leave lynn, and i will continue to renew my membership not only for the great supplies but for the great visit with the employees.

Jan P.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As an educator and recycler, I strongly recommend all teachers and artists to go treasure hunting at ExCL, 20 Wheeler St., Lynn. I have found furniture, materials, art supplies, office supplies, name tags, and more for many different projects with children and teachers. The North Shore is SO lucky to have this great resource in our region! Thank you ExCL.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

If you are an artist, art teacher or just love random materials, this place is for you. There are places with similar missions as Excl all around the country, but Excl is the best! I am an art teacher and I cannot believe what I walk out of there with on any given day. Jodi, who runs the place, is a gem, and always full of ideas for art projects. You just can't beat $50 for 5 visits. Support the arts and support the environment by supporting Excl!

Lora B.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As an art teacher with a limited budget, unending imagination, and a heart toward recycling, I find EXCL the most fantastic place to shop. Every time I know I am headed in that direction I begin to get excited, because I know I will leave with a treasure-trove of materials for my students to use. Despite having to multitask and having so many other things to do, the staff and volunteers help me find things, suggest uses for materials that I had not even thought of. It's great being able to engage in conversation and feed off these positive talented and supportive people. YAY for EXCL!!!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 2

I am an art teacher and I use Excl often. I love the supplies and the unexpected items that I always find here. However, I DREAD having to go . The woman that runs the organization is the most miserable, mean person I have ever seen, especially in a professional atmosphere. I know many people who have to use this place and everyone says the same thing. It's too bad because instead of becoming part of the arts community she has made going to EXCL a necessary but hated chore.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Excel is a treasure chest of tactile art materials, office supplies, furniture, and more! Everything they have is amazing!! The people who work there are always super helpful and friendly as well, deserving great appreciation for their hard work saving materials from the dump!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started volunteering at ExCL 3 years ago. For me, it was a natural fit, since I am both an artist and someone concerned about the earth. I come to volunteer once a week for about 3 hours. It's been great to get to know the staff team, and see how they work together to keep such a complex, dynamic organization operating seamlessly. I've enjoyed volunteering here, and that's why I keep coming back! There is truly something for everyone to do to help. I have done over 30 tasks in the last 3 years, and the staff are always open to new ways or suggestions to do something, as well as being attentive to what kind of volunteer work would most interest me.

if you are an artist or educator, I could see you really enjoying the volunteer work that goes on here. It's so creative and fun! I love coming and have brought others to help out before because of this.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Wow! what can I say to summarize my experience with ExCL? It is a TREMENDOUS organization---one that truly pursues it's mission statement wholeheartedly. As a Boston resident you can't beat the materials, guidance and support from the staff at ExCL. They are warm, friendly, knowledgeable, intelligent and fun. Sometimes I come in to poke around and see what new supplies they have in and I always leave inspired by conversations with staff and the ideas they bring to life!

It's amazing to see how all the pieces of the puzzle come together at ExCL. I love knowing that the materials I am now using were once headed for a dump, but now are brightening up the lives of my students. I am a huge environmentalist and I think ExCL is a great model that could easily spring up around Boston and the country in general. I am also continually amazed at how organized and easy to use ExCL is.

I have to take a minute to comment on someone else's posting, to politely, but emphatically disagree with their opinion on the quality of staffing. As a client/customer at ExCL, I haven't had even ONE experience that has been less than stellar over the last 4 years I've been an ExCL customer, and I come every month. In fact, I feel the staff go out of their way to be customer-service focused and helpful. It's one of the reasons that I love ExCL--the people that work here are an amazing team, and it feels like family to come and visit. I hope many more people get to experience ExCL in all it's glory! I've enjoyed it and have referred many friends and colleagues!!!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

For my entire life as an artist, I’ve benefited enormously from Extras for Creative Learning - as a student, member, teacher, and parent. What a splendid connection to have, associating with other artists, art teachers and art lovers in the ambience of an organization devoted entirely to supporting those who want and need to create with materials. After studying at Massachusetts College of Art and Design (BFA’98), I had my first interaction with the “Recycle Center” as a student teacher and have continued to use the center as a resource throughout the years. Many staff members and artists I’ve met there have become dear friends. The organization has progressed through a remarkable evolution in the effort to assist artists teachers in the pursuit of creating art. I can testify that this is a vibrantly active and creative non-profit with wonderful leadership on the ground level!! Art teachers in the Boston area and beyond would be lost without this treasure trove of materials!