Oct 14, 2009

Who Wants My Stuff?

One man's trash is another one's treasure, as the saying goes. Why send stuff to the landfill when there might be someone nearby who wants what you have? Consider the following:

Threadbare sheets, towels, and blankets. The Humane Society where I used to live collected these to use on animals as they came out of spay/neuter surgery. Puppies don't care if they're not 400 thread count.

Ink cartridges. Every school I know collects these for recycling. It's a money-maker for the schools. Office supply stores such as Staples & Office Depot accept them also.

Old cell phones. Cell Phones for Soldiers provides one hour of talk time for soldiers stationed abroad for every old cell phone donated.

Furniture. There exist, in almost every town, thrift stores such as Goodwill, Salvation Army, or Vietnam Vets, that sell used household items. If you have a couch that is in decent shape, donate it. Most times, the store will pick it up for you. If they tell you they would love it but cannot pick it up, then ask your tax adviser if you can hire two men and truck to take it there, and deduct that cost, as well as the value of the couch, as a charitable donation on your taxes.

Household items like dishes, pots, pans, silverware, lamps, and decent bedding. When two adults combine households, you really need to assess how many toasters any one family needs. Catholic Social Services (call your local Catholic parish to get the number) has a refugee resettlement program in many cities whereby families are arriving here from war-torn countries with nothing but the shirts on their backs. They are setting up households with nothing and would welcome a fork, spoon, or coffee cup.

Eyeglasses. The Lion's Club wants them.

Clothing. When our family was struggling financially, people would give me bags of clothes, saying that they didn't want to donate them to Goodwill "because they just sell them." The giver wanted to give the items to the person who would actually use them. I received the items gratefully but gently informed the giver that when you donate to Goodwill, "you bless people like me." I was able to buy a winter coat at a bargain price that I never could have afforded at a store. Every time I wear that coat, I bless the person who generously donated it to the thrift store.

I take a tax deduction of 14 cents/mile to deliver my bag of clothes to the charity drop off point.

Books and magazines. Libraries usually have a book sale, either annually or ongoing, to raise funds. Donations are most welcome.

Office supplies. If you have obsolete stationery (letterhead or envelopes) donate them to a preschool or elementary school. The lower grades send letters to Santa, and the envelopes can also be used to send notes home. Pencils are welcome at every school and almost every grade (I say almost because there are classrooms where they use the "fat" pencils instead.) In fact, you might check out the teacher's lounge and see if it is in need of a pencil holder, pencils, stapler, tape dispenser, and sticky notes.

Shoes. Believe it or not, there are charities that specialize in accepting & distributing donations of used shoes. Soles4Souls is one, Shoe Bank is another.

There may be many other willing recipients of stuff you no longer want. Call your church secretary (or the secretary of the largest church in your town) because she is often a link in the chain of those who need, and those who donate. She might have just the person who needs what you have.

You can't take it with you. Be a channel, not a reservoir.

Whom are you going to bless with your stuff today?

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