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Spring cleaning means charity work for Martell man

Dana Pruitt stands with a crib and changing table set that he received as separate donations, and two toddler beds he's received. All will be donated to those in need. Gretta Stark / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 2
This crib had a drop-down side when it was donated to Dana Pruitt. Pruitt replaced the drop side with a stationary side, and later received a changing table which was also finished with a similar cherry-colored stain. The items will be donated to those in need. Gretta Stark / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 2

Many people brought items to River Falls' Spring Cleanup event May 8-13. But town of Martell resident Dana Pruitt had a different mission. He was at the cleanup every day to pick up items.

Pruitt collects used cribs to fix up and donate to people in need.

It all started about five years ago. Pruitt had heard from We Do Feet in Hudson, which collects and distributes furniture for people in need, that they weren't able to take cribs that weren't up to code.

"They can't fix them," he said. "So I've been, since then, fixing cribs up for them."

Dana Pruitt said he also accepts donations of toddler beds. Gretta Stark / RiverTown MultimediaPruitt collects cribs from the cleanup, and year-round from other donors who contact him via an ad he places in the River Falls Journal classified section. He said the number of cribs he collects per year varies, but he'll probably collect around 150 in a year.

Once the cribs are brought up to code, Pruitt brings them to We Do Feet in Hudson and Connecting Connection in Red Wing. If Turningpoint is in need of a crib, Pruitt said, someone from Turningpoint will contact him, as well.

Pruitt said it usually takes him about a week to fix up a crib, maybe two depending on how much work is needed, or if he needs to purchase some new hardware to fix it — which he does with money out of his own pocket.

Pruitt said cribs can't have drop-down sides. And the slats have to be close enough together that a pop can wouldn't fit through the space between them.

He said it's worth the work. The best part, he said, is knowing that they'll go to people who can use them.

"The kids benefit that don't normally get a crib," he said. "A lot of people are tickled that they're able to get a crib."

Pruitt said some donated cribs he receives are already up-to-date and don't need any work done. Those he cleans up, and donates.

Sometimes, a donated crib won't be in very good condition. But, he'll often still be able to use parts from that crib to fix up another donated crib.

"Sometimes it takes two to three cribs to make one," Pruitt said.

Pruitt said he always tries to match up the cribs' paint or stain when combining parts, so that everyone who receives a crib he's worked on gets a nice-looking piece of furniture.

In addition to fixing up cribs, Pruitt also works on toddler beds. He collects mattresses for cribs and toddler beds. People also give him other items, such as changing tables.

Pruitt also saves spare metal parts from the cribs and toddler beds he receives as scrap metal, which he turns in for money. He then donates that money to charity as well.

Pruitt said he'd never done much woodwork before he started fixing up cribs, but it hasn't been too hard, and he's glad he started doing this. In fact, he'd like to thank everyone who's donated items to his cause. He is also grateful to Advanced Disposal for letting him be a part of the City Cleanup each year, especially Lee Johnson, who runs the cleanup for Advanced Disposal.

Pruitt said he's got enough cribs and toddler beds to work on for a while, but anyone interested in donating can look for his ad in the River Falls Journal classifieds, which will appear again in the fall.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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