The Baltimore region was recently hit with a storm the likes of which they have not seen in some time. We are finally starting to dig out from the nearly three feet of snow that headed our way.
Among the most popular people in the aftermath of the storm were those walking around with snowblowers. Whether they were a thoughtful neighbor looking out for others or for-hire vendors trying to make a few dollars, those with snowblowers were highly useful (and difficult to find) commodities in getting through the snow. Snowblowers are also a resource that can cost between several hundred and over a thousand dollars — money that many families simply do not have access to.
One innovative solution to making tools available more affordable and accessible is the ToolBank. ToolBanks lend tools to their local charitable sectors to help them conduct their missions, performing tool lending, advocacy and maintenance in the process.
The Baltimore Community Toolbank, for example, currently offers an inventory of tools that include shovels, rakes, drill and more that they loan out to nonprofits, faith organizations, schools and community groups. They support these organizations by renting equipment at pennies on the dollar of what it would cost to purchase needed tools.
While these types of large Toolbanks can be useful for large-scale community projects like building a school playground or creating a church garden, such organizations are limited to help in circumstances such as the major storm that recently hit. To that end, might individual communities benefit if there were a way to allow their respective neighborhood associations to create and develop their own Toolbank? If your neighborhood association had a snowblower that could be used through the entire community, would that have been helpful?
Local Toolbanks can be helpful in times beyond heavy snow. Gardening, lawn care and even basic home maintenance could be more accessible and affordable for residents in addition to organizations if we found a way to make this model work more locally. This might not just help when the next blizzard comes around, but around the year for residents of Baltimore County.