Everyone’s Resource Depot on the University of Maine Farmington campus turns 40 this year. Depot coordinator Mary Ryan, left, talks with board member Rena Bardo who was delivering items donated by Franklin Memorial Hospital. Pam Harnden/Franklin Journal

FARMINGTON — Everyone’s Resource Depot at the University of Maine is a gem not everyone knows about.

A lot of people don’t realize it is open to the public, or where it is, said Mary Ryan, coordinator of the depot for most of its 40 years.

“It can take courage for people to explore new places, new things,” she said. “At the beginning of every school year, I try to spread the word. The depot is a bit off the track. I try to let UMF students, area adults know where we are. I keep working on that.”

Ryan and others associated with the depot will participate in the Chester Greenwood Parade on Saturday, Dec. 7, to help spread the word. Some of the walking contingent will wear earmuffs made from materials at the depot. Signboards are being made by the two university students who work at the depot. Coupons for 50 cents off will be distributed to parade viewers.

“You can get quite a bit for 50 cents,” Ryan said.

The depot was founded when a group of people in 1979 liked the reuse concept offered by the Children’s Resource Center in Portland and decided it would be well worth developing something similar in Farmington, she said.

“UMF seemed like a good fit,” Ryan said. “There were a lot of teachers in this area with connections to the university. They felt there’d be an audience out there for inexpensive items, a variety of materials that could be used in schools, other settings.”

The depot’s first home was in the basement of Franklin Hall. In 2007, it moved to the newly built Education Center where there is easy access from the parking lot on Lincoln Street. A sign is posted near that door whenever the depot is open.

In addition to supplying materials, the depot holds holiday workshops for children and others to make items such as valentine cards, Thanksgiving wreaths and Christmas crafts. It offers programs to create specific projects for the university’s Sweatt-Winter Child Care and Early Education Center, area Head Start groups and local elementary classes. Members of Work First visit the depot every Thursday morning.

“They love it,” Ryan said of the Farmington nonprofit that provide services to adults with developmental disabilities.

Linda Brown, who was told about the depot by a friend, shopped there recently.

“I’m just looking to see what they have here,” she said. “You can get things cheaper here than at a big-box store.”

UMF elementary education senior Megan Russell was looking for silver paper to put on a bulletin board she’s making for a social studies class.

“This place is wonderful,” she said. “I will definitely be back, hopefully, to get items for my own classroom.”

A variety of items made from depot materials are on display, including dream catchers, giant squids and seasonal wreaths.

Ryan said area businesses, organizations and community members have always donated lots of materials. She advised people to check first before bringing them in.

“When I get a call from a group, I listen to what’s being offered,” Ryan said. “If it is on our wish list, I accept it. If I don’t think we can use it, I call around to find other homes. We have a lack of space to store items.”

Ryan said the depot and the SHAREcenter in Auburn swap materials.

The Farmington depot has 13 directors who oversee operations, including some associated with UMF and others from the community.

As for her work at the resource center, Ryan said it keeps her young, and she hasn’t thought about retiring.

“The clientele are a lot of young people,” she said. “It’s good for me to be busy.”

For more information call 207-778-7150; email [email protected] or visit http://resourcedepot.umf.maine.edu/.

Everyone’s Resource Depot in Farmington is turning 40. Linda Brown visited the recycling center for the first time last week. Pam Harnden/Franklin Journal

Everyone’s Resource Depot in Farmington is turning 40. UMF senior Megan Russell found a piece of silver paper there for a social studies class project. Pam Harnden/Franklin Journal

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