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App Looks to Connect Veteran Shelters with Donations

The creator of an app designed to help military members resell uniforms and household items is hoping to help connect 15 veterans' homeless shelters across the U.S. with supplies through an innovative donation drive.

The ReSupply app was created in May by Army 2nd Lt. Paul Tocci as a cadet project for a West Point business class. It was meant to be a solution for cadets trying to sell uniforms or used textbooks to other cadets, he said.

But when the app's popularity spread quickly to other Army bases, Tocci expanded the concept to a broader business model.

Using the ID.me system, users are verified as having a military connection and can then post items for sale. Verified military-affiliated shoppers located near them can connect with sellers through the app and complete the transaction through a secure system. ReSupply then charges a transaction fee.

But until Jan. 1, Tocci wants users to leverage the app to clean out their closets and cupboards and fulfill the wish lists of homeless shelters that specifically serve veterans.

"A lot of the challenges these shelters face are limited just by the resources in the local community," Tocci said. "These organizations are often run by just a few people, they're usually understaffed and they have trouble meeting the needs of people they are serving."

Using a wish list compiled with the shelters' input, users can upload items to the app that they want to donate. ReSupply staff members, many of them Army spouses, will match the items with a specific shelter and send the user a printable mailing label, Tocci said. Users can then box the items up and send them to the shelter.

The wish list match system will help the shelters cut down on donations they can't use, and get items into their hands that they actually need. While some of the shelters need basic items such as bed sheets, for example, others focus on transition services and need items such as suit coats or pots and pans.

"People don't really know what these shelters need, so they go by and drop items off," Tocci said. "Then [the shelters] have to sort through the things, clean them and then store them."

ReSupply is funding most of the shipping costs out of pocket, and has a GoFundMe account set up to allow civilians who do not qualify to use the app to donate as well.

In the future, Tocci hopes to automate the donation process and allow those who have unsold items on the site to easily pass them on to an organization in need.

-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at amy.bushatz@military.com.

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