By Cary Shuman
Cottage Street resident Sladja Vukovic is hoping to build community spirit in her neighborhood with a new project called Buy Nothing.
Vujovic is the administrator of the Chelsea Facebook group for the worldwide program in which neighbors give and receive free items from each other such as clothes, household goods, furniture, bicycles – really, anything is on the list.
“Currently we have 32 members in Chelsea,” said Vukovic, who is a realtor in Boston. “There are Facebook groups in many cities and towns in Massachusetts.”
Vukovic is originally from Bosnia and came to the United States in 2008. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and an Associate’s degree in Criminal Justice. She has lived in Chelsea since 2010. Her husband is former Chelsea High soccer star Vedran Vukovic, and they have a son, Banja.
The 31-year-old resident started the Buy Nothing group two months ago for residents in the southern half of Chelsea, spanning from Admiral’s Hill to Washington Avenue. She is looking for a resident to step forward and be the administrator for the northern half of Chelsea.
“Basically our goal is to give where you live,” said Vukovic. “If you have something that you want to give to someone or if you have something you want to lend – like a jacket – you post it on a Facebook page, and if anyone else needs it, they’re going to reply and take that item for free.”
The time period for giving and lending can vary from item to item.
“Let’s say I need to borrow something for a weekend, you can ask for it and someone can volunteer to give it you,” said Vukovic.
Buy Nothing can also provide free services such as lawn mowing, house painting, snow plowing, landscaping or even learning a new language. Vukovic speaks English, Serbian, and Spanish.
“You can’t advertise your business in the program, but if you have a service for free that you want to provide, you can do that,” she explained.
Vukovic is trying to increase the number of members in the Facebook group through marketing and personal contacts with her neighbors.
“Somerville has more than 500 members,” she said. “But they’ve been doing it longer than we have.”
The overall mission of the program, according to Vukovic, is to give items to neighbors and strengthen the bonds in the neighborhood.
“I was looking for groups on Facebook and the Buy Nothing project seemed like a great neighborhood-strengthening group,” she said. “I searched it Chelsea and found out that the city didn’t have it. So I became an administrator and here we have it.”
Vukovic is considering an appearance during the a City Council meeting to help publicize the group.
“My goal is for people to get know about this project,” she said. “I think it’s a great way for people who have something to give, to give it to someone else for free.”
(For more information, please go to Facebook and search for: buynothingchelseasouth,ma)