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Hotel's makeover bringing largess of furniture to area's nonprofit groups

Nearly a million dollars in high-quality hotel furniture is being donated to nonprofit organizations in Niagara and Erie counties by the developer transforming the Holiday Inn Select on Third Street into a Crowne Plaza Hotel.

The contents of 160 of the hotel's rooms have already been placed in homes and with organizations throughout the region, and a large-scale pickup of more furniture is planned for today.

By the time the hotel is renovated this summer, the total gift will include the contents of the hotel's 425 rooms, from beds and dressers to irons and artwork.

The hotel began storing the furnishings in one of its 4,000-square-foot ballrooms in November as Doug Williams, project manager for the Phoenix-based real estate firm NAMWEST, coordinated with local organizations to match up the available furniture with the needs of families. Williams said the company initially wanted to send it all to victims of Hurricane Katrina but had to change its plans when Habitat for Humanity told him that organizations there weren't prepared to accept furniture yet.

"Then we kind of put the word on the street [that] we're looking for people who work with children and families and organizations that could be accountable for receiving such large donations," Williams said. "People have stepped up to the plate . . . and proved themselves to be reputable."

Recipients include Old Time Baptist Church in Hamburg, Niagara County Department of Social Services, New Directions, Community Missions of Niagara Frontier, Carolyn's House in Niagara Falls and Habitat for Humanity Buffalo.

New Directions, a statewide agency that works with behavioral health issues, will receive 100 rooms of furniture.

"The stuff is beautiful. It's a logistical nightmare, but New Directions wants to get as much as we can," said Mark Smith, managed care director.

"Our group homes are furnished, but we have families that have rooms without furniture and kids are sleeping on the floor."

Old Time Baptist Church will be given 40 rooms of furniture, which it will match with low-income, inner-city families and use at its mission house in Buffalo.

Habitat for Humanity has come up with a unique way to use the furniture. It will be sold at its ReStore in Buffalo to raise money to build and renovate more homes in the area.

"For us it's not so much what we're doing. We're excited you've got organizations out there taking the time to help everyone out," Williams said.

"It's something to see when families show up and say, 'Wow, we really could use this.' Without them this furniture would get wasted."


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