Last week I wrote about collecting “stuff.”
Conversely, there is the ridding of said stuff. While it’s best not to acquire too much of it in the first place, it is good to regularly purge. How do you do that?
At the turn of this century (I just wanted to say that), I had the opportunity to be executive director of the Cambria Youth Center. It was a nonprofit organization that provided afterschool activities and a place to hang out for middle and high school students. Great fun.
Always on the lookout for funds and donations, our incredible community came through time and again. Of course, there were the things that came to us we wished hadn’t — the TV “that mostly still works, it’s just too bulky,” the chair that “just needs a cover and a few screws to hold the leg on,” or the lamp that “just needs to be rewired.”
OK, folks. Consider this a lesson in donation etiquette. The most basic rule is “assessment.” Start with: Why don’t you want or need it anymore? Outgrown it? Don’t like it anymore? It’s been five years since you even looked at it? Got a bigger/smaller one?
Or, are you getting rid of it because it “needs a little something”? If it’s minor, that could be fine IF you contact the people to whom you plan on donating — do they have employees that do just that — fix things? The phone is your friend. Call first! Be sure BEFORE you dump it on them! Time, space and resources are always at a premium, so don’t make it any harder on them than they already have it!
Next, is it stained, frayed, shot full of holes or stretched out? If so, NOBODY ELSE IS GOING TO NEED IT EITHER! Again, why are you getting rid of it? For the above reasons, have mercy on the recipient and THROW IT AWAY! If it’s bigger than a pair of jeans (a chair, a sofa) call your local disposal company, which, for a small fee, will haul it away. DON’T just expect the Goodwill or local church to be able to handle it.
We just had a clothing exchange at my house, which is always one of the highlights of my big summer party. Amazing things show up. It’s a jolly good time pawing through and trying on and taking home new threads. However, there is always a large garbage bag full of things that are downright rag-bag worthy and even nowhere-to-go-but-the-trash-can (I separate them all before I donate the leftovers).
I have come to believe folks just feel guilty about throwing things away, which is good but, hey, if you have gotten 10 years out of a pair of pants and they’re shredded from the use, it’s OK to toss them. Gone are the days of the Ragmen who came to collect such items to be recycled into paper.
Furniture is not made as well, so doesn’t last as long — this is a waste. Again, call first to see whether it’s wanted and be honest in your description of it!
The bottom line is, again, why are you getting rid of it? If you can’t or won’t repair or clean the item, why will someone else want to or even be able to do so? Be more conscientious about it, and the parties you are donating to will be happier and YOU will even be happier, as the guilt of passing along garbage is worse than throwing it away! At least it is for me.