Craigslist meets Freecycle meets the Ventura County Public Works Department (VCPWD) on the newly revamped VCMAX Web site, which acts as a recycling and disposal resource.

As Pandee Leachman of the VCPWD explains, this local version of the statewide CALMAX program makes everything from home renovation to single parenting easier by connecting people to resources. By listing all the free collection resources in the community (as well as their hours of operation), VCMAX helps businesses and members of the community that have materials to spare figure out the most cost-efficient and environmentally friendly methods of purging those items. By listing other people’s surplus items, VCMAX provides a great way for low-income individuals and families to find everything from cheap appliances to career clothes.

Listed items and materials ready for pickup don’t need to be free, Leachman explains, but there is a $100 cap in what businesses and individuals can charge in a VCMAX listing.

Often, it is both individuals and local non-profits that benefit from this regional online classifieds section.

“The reuse resource is the aspect of this site I’m most proud of. Nine times out of 10 charitable organizations can’t afford ads in the yellow pages,” Leachman said. But they can list themselves on VCMAX free of charge.

Leachman realized the importance of such a site when she was given the unfortunate task of moving her mother to a rest home, and she had to dispose of the possessions her mother had accumulated over a lifetime. She later realized her exhausting experience wasn’t uncommon.

“You go to her house [and] she’s got a stockpile of old paints, a sofa and chair, boxes and boxes of really nice clothes. You’re responsible for getting rid of that. I need to figure out what I’m going to do with the old computers [and electronic waste], then the boxes of clothes other people could use. I need to find thrift stores and consignment stores, places that provide tax donation receipts,” said Leachman.

As Leachman illustrates, VCMAX makes finding those connections easier.

“With canned goods and quality frozen goods, you can link on the Food Share. Power tools, lawn mowers, appliances — you can link to Habitat for Humanity, who will pick up all those things. All this happens without [you] having to struggle through the phone book,” she said.