Alert — and gratified — “06880” reader Mary Luvera writes:
I don’t remember when I joined the Buy Nothing Westport group, or how I heard about it.
However, Facebook tells me I first posted to the group on September 20, 2017. It was a “wish” post, asking to borrow a helium balloon holder that I needed for a party.
Another member of the group granted my wish later that day.
While I soon became conversant in the language of the Buy Nothing group (“Wish,” “Wish Granted,” “Interested,” “Give,” “Gifted,” etc.), I was a bit of a reluctant group member. I felt guilty accepting gifts from others, or offering gifts that might better serve someone in a less affluent community.
That was before I understood what was actually happening on the Buy Nothing group. While many of the “gives” and “wishes” were for material items, some were humbling.
One group member gifted key lime pies. Another gifted a pizza making lesson. A third wished for hand-written get well cards to deliver to a local resident injured in a recent storm.
Beyond that, I noticed the support that group members and admins offered each other in the posts.
For example, a post by a first time grandmother asking for a crib received a number of congratulations.
One of my own stranger “gives” was offering soy pulp left over from making tofu. I added “Is this too weird?” to the post.
The admin quickly liked my post and replied, “Not too weird at all!” It was a weird offer, but I appreciated the no judgment attitude.
No one wanted the soy pulp, but I did have a nice exchange with another group member interested in my recipe for tofu.
Then I started seeing “gratitude” posts. One thanked a group member for the gift of a shower cap. It reminds her of Paris where she had fallen in love with a similar one.
Another thanked a local couple for offering their home and washing machine during a power outage. One more thanked a group member for dropping off cookies when picking up a gifted item.
Countless group members have also expressed gratitude to the admins for the friendships and connections the group has given them.
Clearly, a community was developing. Although I’ve gifted and received a number of material items, and like others have expressed gratitude to the admins, the best outcome for me has been the local connections.
Earlier this year Parul Kamboj, a Buy Nothing member, offered Indian cooking lessons at her home. A lover of all food, and especially new cultural experiences, I quickly added my name to the more than 40 other replies.
Luckily, I was selected to join one of her classes. On a cold winter day, Parul generously opened her home to 4 members of the Buy Nothing community. She taught us how to make sabudana khichdi, a vegetarian dish with tapioca balls, carrots, peanuts and spices.
A few weeks after our lesson I met Parul again. I couldn’t get her passion for her culture and cuisine out of my mind. I had to write a piece about her for my blog, where I explore culture through food stories.
I spent over an hour at her home, chatting and sipping ginger tea. I really got to know Parul that day. I felt very fortunate to have had this view into her life, culture and food. It was all thanks to the Buy Nothing Westport group.
It’s true that members of the Buy Nothing Westport group exchange material items, which could possibly better serve someone somewhere else.
Scratch below the surface though, and you’ll find that real connections are happening behind many of these exchanges. People are meeting, learning about each other, becoming friends, and supporting one another.
Of course if you’re looking for a trampoline, shoes, soccer cleats, softball pants, an American Girl doll, a storage bench, a bookcase or blender, you can find those through the group too!