CINCINNATI -- Seventeen-year-old Giovanni Wright grew up in poverty. For him, volunteering with New Life Furniture Bank isn't charity -- it's an acknowledgement of shared hardship and shared humanity.
"It's kind of a personal feeling, having to give back to the homeless and people who are coming out of shelters," he said. "I know their struggle. I know how they feel."
New Life Furniture Bank is a 10-year-old organization that collects gently used furniture and donates it to Greater Cincinnati families coming out of homelessness, fleeing domestic abuse or living with extreme poverty.
These families often have been forced to discard their possessions as they move from place to place; giving them furniture "turns empty houses into homes" and can even help them stay anchored in one place after months or years as involuntary nomads.
Students such as Wright help unload moving trucks and carry donated furniture into the new homes of people like Suniisha Davis, who received a delivery Wednesday morning.
"I feel like crying right now because I'm so happy," she said. "I've never been through this before. … Now I get to have a better life from now on and to better me and my kids' life."
New Life delivered to 600 Cincinnati families in 2016. The organization hopes to increase that number to 800 in 2017, said executive director Dana Saxton.
"Cincinnati is a bigger city with a higher rate of poverty," she said. "Right now, the need is overwhelming."
Overwhelming to the tune of 8,000 homeless people in the city alone, according to Shelterhouse. Although New Life has a robust staff and a number of young volunteers who've devoted their summer breaks to giving, the organization is always looking for new volunteers and donors to help even more.
If you have gently used furniture that you think someone else could love, New Life will pick up your donations for free. You can learn more about donating and volunteering online.