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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!

Client Served

Rating: 5

As a mother, crafter, and lover of all things recycled and reusable, ExCL is one of my Happy Places. You never know what wonderful and wacky stuff you'll find there! Lindsay, the director, is helpful, knowledgeable, and creative--always thinking of ways to illuminate the experience for shoppers, and making the place runs smoothly with both a limited budget and staff.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

ExCL is an amazing place that helps teachers in a great way! I work with adults with developmental delays and we go to ExCL once a week and the staff is extremely friendly and welcome to both myself and my clients. They always have a task for us to do and great feedback to go with it once the task is done. They always thank us up and down for the work that we do, but if it was not for organizations like this one our program would not be the community based one we are. This organization has welcomed us with opened arms and has always had the door open for us to volunteer. The staff is extremely friendly and interacts with my clients in such a positive manor, it is so refreshing to see. They work so hard to make sure things are as organized as possible and take pride in what they are accomplishing for others. I am happy to say that I volunteer for such an organization!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have visited EXCL numerous times every year and have found the materials to be very interesting. The STAFF, no matter what is going on, is unflappable, helpful, and very creative. When I was in need of ideas for science-related materials for my graduate art ed students (science is not really my strong point), Lindsey foraged through bins, shelves, and under cabinets to find materials and suggest interesting uses. My graduate and undergraduate art ed students as well as art teachers from the Western Mass area all rave about EXCL and the opportunities for free creative materials for their classrooms and lessons. IF ONLY we had such a recycle center nearer to us; but the drive to the Eastern part of teh state for this purpose is absolutely worth it!!!!!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

ExCL is an amazing organization! I work for a program with adults with developmental disabilities, and we bring a group of 6 clients once a week to volunteer there. The staff at ExCL is always very friendly, helpful, and patient with our clients. The purpose and goal of this organization is so important, and it is clear that all their staff are invested in the overall success of the organization. They have so much great stuff that would be thrown out and wasted if it wasn't for them.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I LOVE EXCL!! The materials are amazing and the stuff is very knowledgable about what to do with random stuff. Its a great place to volunteer too!!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Excl has quickly become my favorite place to find work related craft and project supplies as well as supplies for my personal artistic endeavors. The staff are helpful and very kind. They have been so supportive and encouraging when I was trying to get a rather complicated, student-centered craft project started and they offered excellent ideas and helped me find exactly what I was looking for. Both Lindsay and Jodi have taken time to walk with me through the store to scout out supplies and to help me carry things when I've gone overboard! I visit Excl at least once a week to see what new things have come in and I think I will have to renew my membership multiple times this year due to my frequent visits...but its so incredibly worth it!!! My office space at my various schools have been taken over by the wonderful supplies found at Excl and my house has now been consumed by my renewed artistic streak...inspired by Excl! Thank you everyone at Excl for helping my students and I find our inner artists!!! See you soon!!

Anne C.

Client Served

Rating: 5

ExCl has bent over backwards for my department in the West Springfield Public Schools! If I'm looking for something specific I can give them a call and ask about it. Since we are more than 2 hours away they are kind enough to help us out this way. I wish I could get there more often to collect some of the amazing finds they make available to teachers for a FRACTION of the cost of retail. Just the savings alone on furniture and archive materials has saved my department over a $1000 this semester alone!
Jodi and Lindsay have been super helpful every time we shop and I thank them for their many kindnesses over the years I've been a member.

Review from Guidestar

Hua H.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Great materials for Boston Public Schools kindergarten teachers! Creative materials are made, used and displayed in their classrooms by students and adults.

Client Served

Rating: 1

The materials provided are so helpful to teachers but the new director is probably the most unfriendly, unprofessional person I have ever dealt with in my life. She is rude and condescending and I cannot believe she is the new director. The previous director was not much better but this woman takes the cake. I had to leave the premises in order not to tell her how horribly rude she was. First I called from my car to see if they were open and she condescendingly told me you can find all this information on our website too. Funny I know that, most do, but clearly I do not have internet in my car. I then heard her speak to three or MORE callers the same way! I work for MASS Art as well as teach in the pubic schools so I often host student teachers. I brought one to the center to show her and explain what is was all about. I was not there to get supplies nor was she and this woman would not even let my student in the door to see the place. She said if she would like to come in she can pay $40 or wait in the hall. WHAT? Are you serious? If she is that miserable in her position or is not people friendly she should find another job. Honestly I will use the rest of my membership I paid for then I will never return to this place to be treated badly by this person. I will also make it my mission to make sure the people on the board or whomever is above her know about her attitude problem. I had a conversation with a few art teachers and my colleagues at MASS ART and they all concurred with my opinion of her. This was not a one time event with her. As I was shopping another time listening to her be rude to a customer a teacher I did not even know turned to me and told me " I just try and ignore her the best I can and not let her get me upset. " The last time I was there the place was pretty much empty except for me and another teacher and two of her staff and this teacher went over to her at the CHECK IN desk where she was surfing the internet and he politely said I am ready to check out when you get a chance and she rudely and condescendingly said "well then, you- go -over- to -the- check- OUT- desk - and, ring- the -bell" What?? Is he in K1? He calmly did as she asked and she took her sweet time, continued to look at whatever she was looking at online (some clothing store) and made him wait AT LEAST 1-3 mins just because she could. I was appalled by that behavior and observed the entire event. He just shook his head and left. I know I will make it my mission to warn people of this woman and to proceed at their own risk. After a very long day working with students and then coming here to pay out of our own pockets to fund our own programs (which in itself is wrong) I do not want to be treated rudely, by some miserable woman who seems to enjoy being snarky, rude, condescending and just rotten to then go home and take care of my family exhausted and upset because of a person who clearly has poor interpersonal skill. As soon as I find out who is on the board or who she report to I will also send them a letter informing them of her unprofessional behavior. She clearly needs some training on how to relate to people and sharpen her interpersonal skills. I believe if this keep up all the hard work Jodi did to turn this place into something special will go straight down hill. As far as my information, I have never written a letter complaining about anyone at any time. I am not that person but I really felt compelled to pass this information along. I will continue to do so until the problem is addressed in some way. Thank you for your time, A concerned teacher

Client Served

Rating: 5

We LOVE EXCL!!! My department (in the Boston Public Schools) has taken advantage of this amazing recycling center to provide everything from desks, tables, chairs, filing cabinets, paper, carpet, cardboard boxes, business cards, labels, name badges, for FREE (with membership) or at significantly reduced cost... What a great bargain! What a great service!! And they also are very creative and hold classes to teach kids and adults how to make books, ornaments, birdhouses, etc. A VERY cool place!!!!