by Andrea Ysabel M. Mamangun
One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.
This couldn’t be truer for Donna Kiritharan when she bartered her old refrigerator through BF Barter Club, a Facebook group where citizens of Brgy. BF Homes and nearby communities in Parañaque City can put up their unused belongings for trade.
When her fridge was taking up too much space and its brand’s service center wouldn’t accept it even just for disposal, Donna, ala Kon Mari, looked into setting it up for barter, hoping to get rid of it once and for all.
She used it to provide meals for COVID-19 medical frontliners. Originally, in exchange, she requested a donation to any charitable institution. However, due to the group’s “No Cash Allowed” rule wherein barterers are not allowed to put monetary values on their items, she asked for food for front liners instead. This is when a family, who managed a food business, reached out and closed the deal by offering to cook and organize a food drive.
“It was a very nice barter, in a way, because we helped a lot of people… and that was a time when front liners were super exhausted, and they really deserved something to keep up their spirits,” Donna said.
This, however, wasn’t the first and only deal she had made on the group. In fact, ever since she joined in May 2020 during the onset of the pandemic, she has recorded over 380 deals — not including those she closed this year– on her Excel spreadsheet. Yes, you read that right! She has most of her barters listed and accounted for on a spreadsheet she created after she reached 30 deals in just a span of two days.
“I really have a knack for organizing things and even right now, I’m doing sales for some of my items for my business, so I have everything on an Excel sheet. This way, it’s easier for me to track. It’s easier for me to know who the items are going to since I decluttered massively,” she shared.
MODERN-DAY SAMARITANS. Various members of BF Barter Club happily share their fruitful experiences, including a donating drive the members did for medical frontliners (Photos from the BF Barter Club Facebook group).
Donna is only one among more than 13,000 members that depended on the group throughout the lockdown for a place where they can post their unwanted belongings to declutter, stock up their pantries and refrigerators, and fill a food craving.
BF Barter Club was initially inspired by similar online barter groups in such places as Cebu and Bacolod. Items bartered range from, but are not limited to, grocery items, outgrown clothes, pre-loved toys, furniture, and home decor.
Some unique offers come in the form of services, instead of physical items, like online school tutorial services, a pabili service, and customized items.
According to Donna, when BF Barter Club started, leaving the house was very monitored since the ECQ was newly implemented at the time. So, the club helped in a way not only because it helped them exponentially lose clutter, but because it enabled them to obtain their supply of groceries in the safety of their home. In fact, through bartering, they collected enough groceries to last for six months, which they still benefit from this day.
It has definitely grown since it was formed last year. Starting from a group of friends bartering frozen fish for beer and baked goodies for cookie sheets, BF Barter Club has been able to expand its reach through partnering with local businesses within BF Homes and giving back to the community. To drive traffic in establishments that were slowly re-opening, a BF Barter Club Privilege Card was created which helped attract people to unique offers and discounts. Aside from this, they have also partnered with a mall near BF, making it a meet-up place for barterers’ convenience and safety for a time. And just recently, it has helped sustain the BF Community Pantry with members volunteering and bartering their items for supplies to sustain the pantry..
In an interview with Anne Del Rosario, one of the founders and administrators, she revealed that they didn’t really think the group would grow and mean so much to its members “What we thought was like a game or just having fun, was actually very meaningful and really helped a lot of people. We’re thankful that we were able to be a channel of blessing to some people,” Anne said.
Furthermore, in managing the group and participating in barter, Anne expressed how it “made her aware” that the world isn’t so small, that there are people who have the same needs that she can help fill.
“When we open up our life to other people, even just our small community, your life becomes more meaningful because then, you made a person smile…you made a person happy.”
As for the vision they have for the group, she was transparent in saying that: they have none.
“I could easily come up with some hifalutin’ very inspirational mission and vision. But, the truth of the matter is, I think the group, BF Barter Club, is really meant to be a solution. It solved my problem when I needed beer, it solved Abby’s problem when she needed a cookie pan– it just feeds an immediate need and I think that’s all we want the group to be,” she confessed.
More than that helping their fellows in decluttering their homes of fulfilling food cravings, BF Barter Club members have provided families with food on their tables, revived businesses that struggled or closed down due to the pandemic, and fostered new-found friendships at a time when everyone felt lost and alone– making BF Homes more so a home for its members. Indeed, BF Barter Club has not only engaged barterers, but good samaritans, especially during these trying times.