by Gerry Le
Giving thanks is just
one step away from giving back, which is
what two MUSC employees are proud to be
Lowcountry Furniture Bank, a non-profit
organization which collects slightly used
furniture and distributes to families in
need, was started in June 2011 by Steve
Paterniti, information system analyst for
MUSC's Business Development and Marketing
Services Department. "This is our way to
support the community," said Paterniti.
"Our vision is to involve community
partners such as school groups, civic
groups and church groups that are wanting
to help give back too."
Paterniti said he was
inspired to create the organization
because of a home makeover show on HGTV.
"They were making over a home in Atlanta,
and they showed the Furniture Bank of
Metro Atlanta. I started thinking it was a
good way to give back to the community,"
he said. "Think about that extra bed or
dresser you have lying around. There's no
sense in it collecting dust. Instead, give
it to people who really need it."
Development & Marketing Services'
Steve Paterniti, right, helps load a
table in the bed of his truck for the
Lowcountry Furniture Bank. Paterniti
collects furniture for families in need.
for a list of items that are needed. For
Susan Lucas, MUSC
referral call center supervisor and board
member for Lowcountry Furniture Bank, is
also giving back through the program.
"[Paterniti] has just contagious
enthusiasm for this. He's so passionate
about this organization and helping
people. I just had to help," said Lucas.
"He is usually such a quiet guy. But when
he talks about the organization, he's just
so excited. He puts so much time into it,
and I just think it's great."
Time isn't all that
Paterniti puts into his organization.
Originally Lowcountry Furniture Bank
wasn't accepting any cash donations, just
furniture. "We wanted the organization to
be finalized through the IRS as an
official 501(c)(3) before we took any
donations," he said.
On Oct. 19, the
Lowcountry Furniture Bank received its IRS
approval letter. Cash contributions will
now go toward operating expenses and plans
for a permanent warehouse, which is
becoming more and more important.
"[Paterniti] uses his own truck to move
things," Lucas said. "He and his wife use
money from their own pocket, so I help by
giving them my garage to use as extra
storage for now. They give so much. I
figure it's no problem. I can park in the
As of Oct. 19, the bank
had collected 72 pieces of furniture and
distributed 44 items to 14 different
individuals and families. The families
that the furniture bank provides for are
typically single women with children, some
that have been battered and are fortunate
to even be alive. "We're serving the less
fortunate and giving back from what we
have already been given," said Lucas.
One of the first
deliveries that was made came from a tip
from a teacher about her student. "The
teacher came to us and said that she had a
student that was sleeping on a blanket on
the floor," said Paterniti. "We asked if
they needed anything else, and we were
told they didn't have a couch either." He
checked the bank's inventory and loaded up
a couch and a couple beds. They surprised
the family by setting everything up in the
apartment before they came home. The
single mother was brought to tears because
of the generosity. It's because of this
moment that Paterniti believes giving back
used cabinet was donated to the
Bank has many sister organizations and
sponsors such as East Cooper Baptist
Church, East Cooper Outreach, Uncentered,
and Gracious Gifts. But the bank needs
donations in order to continue to help
these families. "We hope to help keep
providing for them as needed. Kids grow up
and need bigger beds. Furniture gets old,
and we want them to know we're not going
to abandon them," said Paterniti.
For information, email
Furniture bank drive
The furniture bank will hold a drive from
8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Dec. 1 in the QQ parking
lot, across from 135 Cannon St., on the
MUSC campus. Visit http://www.LowCountryFurnitureBank.org
for a list of items that are needed.