By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Jul 06, 2004 at 5:17 AM

In the spirit of recycling, bartering and paying it forward, a new Yahoo group, called Milwaukee-Freecycle, cropped up in May. It was started by Milwaukee's Krista Rose who modeled the group after one in Tuscon, Ariz.

The goal of the Milwaukee Freecycle Network is to reduce waste by connecting people who are discarding goods with others who are seeking them. More than 1,000 people have joined.

"We are trying to put a new twist on recycling instead of filling up landfills that end up costing residents more in taxes, let alone disposal fees," says Rose.

The group's ultimate goal is to reach out to residents who are in financial need, and priority is given to charitable organizations, but plenty of other folks are gaining and shedding useful and interesting stuff as well.

Monica Thomas has given away everything from rhubarb plants to a dishwasher to a 12-speed bicycle. She has received a ceiling fan, tricycle, VCR, gallon of yellow paint and a slew of other items in just a few weeks.

"The people I've given things to have been overwhelmingly kind and appreciative," says Thomas.

The deal is, once you post an offer and someone responds saying they want it, it is up to the two group members to privately arrange for pick-up. Usually, the acquirer goes to the home of the discarder and gets the item.

"It's great to get to see the person face-to-face. It really makes someone's day when you give them something they need for free, or to get to thank them in person when you are getting something from them," says Thomas.

Tina King has given away a living room set, bundles of old newspapers, coupons, clothes and cigarettes. In return, she has received a full-size female mannequin.

"I joined this group because I am a big time pack rat. If I have a way to get rid of things I know someone else will put to use, then I have no problem with giving it away," she says.

The rules are simple: all items must be free and legal, members must offer something to the group before they take something and spammers are not welcome. Most items are equivalent to what you'd find at a thrift store or rummage sale, but Rose has heard of people getting cars -- even a house -- in other freecycle networks. This, however, is extremely rare.

"The concept of being able to give something away that you would normally just toss out, and having it go to someone that could really use it, is an awesome experience," says Rose.

Milwaukee-Freecycle's Web site is ecycle.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.