Donate That Stuff – Declutter Your Home And Help Your Community

Written by Neat Freak

If you have stuff laying around that you don’t use, whether it’s clothing, dishes, appliances, electronics, or furniture, it doesn’t mean that someone else couldn’t use it.  You may even find that many of those items, sometimes gift items, have never been taken out of the box.  Do you really want to waste your valuable closet space on things you don’t need, want, wear, or use?  Are you quaking in your boots right now because you think I might suggest a rummage sale?  Never fear!  There are always people in the world that are looking for just those things that you don’t want or need.  They say “charity begins at home”, but I say your home has just gone beyond your four walls.  Charity begins in your community.

Good-Will, The Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul, and Easter Seals are a few of the best known benevolent organizations that are happy to accept your donations.  Large charities such as these are run like businesses, so they will be well organized and easy to locate.  They will, however, have drop-off policies, so be sure to check before you drive in with your truckload.  You will receive a receipt for your donations for proof when it comes time to claim a tax write-off.  Many larger organizations may also offer a pick-up service, which is especially handy for clearing out some of those bigger unwanted items like furniture.  Don’t be afraid to use their pick-up service for smaller items like boxed clothing, too.  They will arrange their schedule to accommodate your needs along with everyone else’s on the route.  Your pick-up may not occur for a few days, but if it makes the difference between donating or not donating, these charitable organizations would rather arrange for pick-up than not get the merchandise at all.

Women and Family Shelters are another option, especially if you have items that would be most appreciated by a displaced family.  Carefully used toys, books, baby clothing, women’s clothing, pajamas, robes, rugs, bedding, and anything else that would make an emergency stay away from home more comfortable would be greatly appreciated.  If a family is forced to leave their home without warning, they are often with only the clothes on their backs, literally.  Distractions and comfort are two things that a sheltered family will need.  As you declutter, think about whether you will use all of those personal care products accumulating in your bathroom or will they continue to collect dust?  Any unopened personal care products will provide the shelter with additional supplies to maintain their inventory, as most shelters operate on very tight budgets. 

Veteran’s organizations like Purple Heart and Vietnam Vets, have special needs for adults who use their services.  Consider adult clothing as well as personal items.  Medical equipment such as walkers or crutches are often overlooked by people because it seems like these things should be available for the taking by veterans, or it may seem unsanitary to some.  There are many veterans who do not qualify for the kind of assistance they may need, and therefore go without a needed walker, wheelchair or other equipment.  These veteran’s organizations have people that will inspect donations, and repair and clean the items, before they are allowed to be given to someone in need.  As long as your donated item looks to be in reasonable shape, consider that a veteran’s group may be able to use it.

Hospitals are always looking for donations for their children’s wing.  Books, toys, and clean stuffed animals are a few of the most often requested donations.  Each hospital will have it’s own policy, so be sure to check before you just drop off a box.  There may not be a procedure for writing a receipt for a tax deduction.  If not, don’t let that stop you from donating as the federal tax laws allow for a certain dollar amount before you must provide a receipt.  Check out the limits before you drop off your donations.

Homeless shelters are an excellent way to make a difference in your own community.  If you don’t think there are any homeless people in your community, check out the statistics.  You will be surprised, and disheartened, to find that nearly every town and city has a population of people who are either homeless or nearly homeless, meaning they roam from shelter to shelter, hoping to find a place to sleep and eat.  Shelters run out of beds and supplies very quickly, so by donating any unneeded blankets, mattresses, beds, and clean, warm clothing, you will help someone, perhaps a family, stay in a shelter a little longer… maybe even long enough to gain strength and security, which often is all it takes to find employment and a place of their own. 

Church missions are sometimes focused on specific needs within their own church, but that is not always the case.  Some churches create and maintain community-wide organizations from within their walls.  You’ll often find thrift stores run by churches.  These stores may fund food pantries, medical clinics, housing for disadvantaged families, and a vast array of specific needs in a community.  Your donation of goods to a church may be used by directly providing basic needs for a family, or the items may be sold and the money used to help support one of the church’s missions.  Whatever they do, you will be sure that someone appreciates your donation.  Giving items to a church is tax deductible, just like a monetary gift, but be sure to check the church’s policy as far as receipts are concerned.  Also, churches will have specific time and space constraints, so be sure to check before you drop off your donation.  They may even request seasonal items be donated only during that season as space may be an issue.

Toys-For-Tots is an organization spearheaded by the United States Marine Corps.  This particular seasonal charity is dedicated to one mission; to give needy children new toys.  They collect, through drop-off boxes, new, unwrapped toys to be distributed to children who might otherwise go without receiving a new toy during the holiday season.  If your family has toys that have been unopened, tags on and never used or loved, this is a perfect opportunity to pack them up and get them to children in need.  During the months from October up until just before Christmas, you will find boxes placed throughout every community, so it’s easy to locate and donate.  This would be an excellent opportunity to rid yourself of those unopened toys that are gathering dust and put a smile on a little one’s face at Christmas time.

The rule of thumb in my house is, other than keepsake items, if you haven’t worn it, used it, or opened it in a year, you don’t need it.  Once you’ve cleared the decks, you can start reorganizing what you have left.  You may even find things that you’d forgotten you have; things you may even have gone out and bought again.  Save time AND save money.  Donating your unneeded and unwanted items could be just the start you need to get and stay organized!  Are you ready to clean house?  Let’s go!

You’ve got your work cut out for you, but we’re here to help.  Visit us often and check out even more tips on how to get yourself, and your home, organized for once and for all.


One Response to “Donate That Stuff – Declutter Your Home And Help Your Community”

  1. Deborah Kenna says:
    August 9th, 2009 9:55 pm

    I would be happy to donate, but I really need help in my home. I have severe pain and cannot do the things I need to do. I am looking for someone who can do a “clean sweep'< not like the tv show, not that bad at all, as I try to clean, organize, but find it so difficult as I am restricted because of a severe back condition. My husband just got out of the hospital, and is recovering, he would help in a minute. We are desperate, as we have so much stuff, and would love to help others, but need help with some people in my home.
    We may move, and that is a great reason to declutter and need help packing.Do you know of any organizations or churches that would be willing to help and I would be happy to help them with things that would help them. I love an organized, clean, sparkling home. I do what I can, but suffer with pain. Any churches have a ministry for this, as we are having financial problems, so to compensate for this, I have plenty of stuff that could help people.
    Thank you.Deborah Kenna

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