LA GRANDE — Whether you need clothes, furniture or help with mowing your lawn, the Buy Nothing La Grande/Island City and Surrounding Areas Facebook group has you covered. The group is part of an international movement focused on giving.
"The 'Buy Nothing' movement is meant to create a local gift economy, designed to build community," said Tammy Hintz, founder of the La Grande chapter. "People in the group benefit in so many different ways."
Rebecca Rockefeller and Liesl Clark started the hyper-local gifting network in July 2013 in Bainbridge Island, Washington. Since then its has spread to 30 nations, according to the Buy Nothing Project website. Hintz started the La Grande network in 2016, and now counts 442 members helping in any way they can.
Posts are not restricted to people making offers, and anyone can ask for what they need, as long as there is no price. The idea, Hintz said, is people have resources they may not even realize they have, and by creating a platform to share these resources, the community can grow and come together.
"I think this group is important to have because it reminds us that behind each post is a human being and that you don't always need to receive anything in return when giving," group member MacKenzie Reisner said. "In a community as small as ours it is important to help our neighbors when we can. Learning by example and teaching our youth that an item's value isn't always monetary will only strengthen our community now."
Reisner joined the group less than a week ago and said she loves the generosity she sees in posts.
"I just think the exchange of a need being met with generosity of the giver, followed by the gratitude of the receiver is super cool," Reisner said. "I enjoy seeing the kindness in the group. People are so willing to help out and give to others. I also love the vulnerability within each post. Asking to be gifted something you need versus asking to purchase something can be so hard for a lot of people, and this group takes the pressure or obligation to pay out of it."
Donations over the past four years have included clothing, furniture and food, but what most members and administrators of the group love is when someone gives their time and talent to help another person. The lead administrator of the Facebook page, Anah Harvey, said she has seen offers of many kinds, including raking leaves and child care.
"The sky is the limit," Harvey said. "One of the best gifts I've seen offered is a one-hour photo shoot that is still available."
The group does not give on a first-come, first-served basis, but insteads lets post "simmer" before deciding on a recipient. Harvey said this gives people who aren't online as often an opportunity to reply to gifting posts.
"The gifter can choose who they give it to for any reason, but sometimes we like to play games, like choosing a number or asking about your favorite color," she said. "That is how we are building community."
The official boundary for the La Grande-centered group is a 20-mile radius. However, as the group still is growing membership, Harvey said, people in Baker City are included.
"People give for a variety of reasons," Harvey said. "It feels good to give and it’s fun. It’s also nice to declutter or downsize your belongings. Sometimes it’s easier to let things go when you know they will be used and appreciated. I also think people have an understanding of how receiving a little help during a difficult time can make a huge difference in someone’s life."