‘Salvage Olympics’ brings unique games to Northeast Philly

Philly Reclaim is hosting the "Salvage Olympics" this Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.
PHOTO: Provided

It’s not often that you get to toss wooden beams, throw sledgehammers or race power sanders, at least in Philadelphia.

But those activities will be part of the Philadelphia Community Corps first-ever “Salvage Olympics,” a free event being held this Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. at the organization’s Tacony headquarters.

PCC is a nonprofit that harvests materials from large deconstruction jobs, selling the lumber, doors, bricks, tiles, windows and other items at its store, Philly Reclaim, tucked inside an industrial zone near the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge.

Sunday’s festivities will be PCC’s first big event since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, which forced the organization to temporarily suspend its job training program.

Gregory Trainor, the nonprofit’s executive director, said the Salvage Olympics is a fundraiser that’s also meant to bring the community together.

“We’re trying to draw attention with these games to all the different things that Philly Reclaim does as community resources,” he told Metro.

He compared the beam toss to the caber toss contest held at the Highland games. Participants will compete to see who can throw the lumber the farthest.

There will be a sledge hammer-throwing game and a brick-building contest, to see who can construct the highest tower using reclaimed bricks.

Stump, a game involving a tree stump, hammers and nails, will also be included at the event. Trainor was quick to say that PCC will be overseeing “very safe versions” of all these contests.

In addition, attendees will be able to race power sanders and enter a door-painting contest. Food and drinks will be sold, and there will also be raffles, prizes and a silent auction.

Philly Reclaim, located in a 20,000-square-foot warehouse in Tacony, sells items recovered from demolition projects.PHOTO: Provided

PCC was in a financially fragile state following its move to the 20,000-square foot Tacony warehouse in December 2019. Several months later, COVID-19 arrived and Philly Reclaim’s sales plunged.

“I really didn’t know what was going to happen,” Trainor said. “I honestly thought that might be it for us. It was a really scary time.”

As a seller of building supplies, the store was deemed essential, and, as a way to get people through the doors, PCC gave out hundreds of free $100 coupons.

The initiative worked, and the organization gave out more than $30,000 worth of free materials last year, Trainor said.

“It was the first time a lot of people heard about us and discovered Philly Reclaim,” he added.

Funds from the Paycheck Protection Program and the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan also helped the nonprofit stay afloat.

Trainor said PCC hopes to restart the job training program soon and has begun contacting its partners, who make referrals to recently incarcerated individuals and others struggling to find work.

During the pandemic, Trainor realized his staff was over-extended, so the program will be significantly scaled back, from 10 to 15 trainees down to possibly two.

“I’d rather do a good job really helping one person than I would providing a half-measure of help to 10 people,” he said.

PCC had been trying to help more people, in part to improve their chances of receiving funding from philanthropic foundations; however, those grants never materialized, Trainor said.

Tickets are not required, but anyone who RSVPs to the Salvage Olympics at https://bit.ly/3xNhDrd will receive a 10% off coupon for any purchase at Philly Reclaim.

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