A couple of weeks ago, Tom McCabe, owner of Junk King Tri-County, a junk removal company based in Danbury and servicing Fairfield County in Connecticut and Rockland County in New York, saw two elderly widowed customers within a two-day period. Both ladies were lonely and scared to leave their homes to mail packages or to buy groceries with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the stay at home orders.
“It was those two meetings that created a turning point for me,” said McCabe, originally from northern New Jersey but now calling Putnam County in New York home. “I realized I’m sitting at home with my family—we’re taken care of—and there are these two scared women. I had to find something I could do to utilize my company’s resources to help the senior community.”
McCabe has always been one to give back to his community, and in previous corporate jobs has worked closely with the United Way. And he has always sorted through his junk-removal jobs and “pulled out stuff that still has life in it,” donating regularly to the Salvation Army and Goodwill.
“It’s part of my business culture,” admitted McCabe. “Believe it or not, we even get lots of stuff for pets that’s brand new and we donate it to animal shelters.”
So when he wanted to know where he could help most, McCabe again turned to the United Way (of Western Connecticut), who immediately put him in touch with Kathy Purdy, director of Hillside Food Outreach. The nonprofit’s mission is to home deliver groceries to those in need of obtaining food for themselves and their families and cannot, for whatever reason, access local pantries. Prior to COVID-19, Hillside served over 2,000 men, women and children through Westchester and Putnam Counties in New York and Western Connecticut. Today that number is far higher.
“Because of this crisis,” said McCabe, “their requests for deliveries has gone up over 1,000 percent. The United Way is actually helping them, working almost as a logistics organizer to coordinate the volunteers for deliveries.”
“I’m raising my hand!”
Count McCabe among those volunteers.
He checks in with Hillside or the United Way daily and lets them know where his truck will be picking up “junk” to see if there are any clients in the area.
“We are very grateful to Tom for using his company to drop off food on their way to their business appointments,” said Purdy of Hillside Outreach. “He’s very eager to help and we’re very grateful.”
“We’re kind of killing two birds with one stone,” McCabe commented. “On the way, we can drop off groceries to someone who needs them.”
Usually McCabe and his crew (he has 10 employees) do one to two deliveries at a time.
“Typically, they tell me you have to actually hand the groceries over,” added McCabe, “but in the times we’re in now, I never see the people. We’ll call the client, let them know we’re outside, drop off the groceries and give them a wave as we drive away.”
McCabe is more than happy to work with any other organizations, too.
“Once you get into the community and do more volunteering you get sucked in,” he explained. “I’m looking for other groups that might need access to a truck we have — say, if you need to move supplies. Specifically I’d like to help seniors. If there’s another nonprofit or local business who wants to partner, I’m raising my hand!”
This spring is proving to be a busy time for Tom McCabe the volunteer but less so for Tom McCabe the Junk King.
“I’m hoping people will go through their attics while they’re home,” laughed McCabe, looking forward to many pickups to come in the months ahead.