A Few Things to Consider Before You Donate

posted by Andrea | 11/18/2015
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donations

This post is updated and expanded on from one I published last year as I feel it’s an important topic to bring up again this time of year. 

Although the holiday season is often filled with consumerism and spending money, there is also a HUGE amount of charitable giving that takes place this time of year — and rightfully so.

I’ve been a volunteer and member of enough non-profit organizations over the years that I know just how crucial “holiday giving” is for these organizations to stay open for operation year-round. They are grateful for every donation (big and small), as well as volunteer labor and donated goods.

However… when it comes to donated goods, I’ve noticed that there are times when our donated goods end up being trashed because they are unusable, even for non-profit organizations and the poorest of the poor in our communities.

I realize that recycling, reusing, repurposing, and donating our unneeded items is usually preferable to dumping them in the trash… BUT that doesn’t mean every donation place wants everything we don’t. 

Have you seen the massive dumpsters outside Goodwill, Salvation Army, Habitat Re-Stores, and other local donation centers? Those dumpsters are stuffed full of the stuff WE donate that is deemed as trash — broken, stained, ripped, gross, missing parts, expired, or unusable for some other reason.

Sometimes, the item is in perfectly good shape but just something that the specific organization doesn’t accept (like TV’s, computers, exercise equipment, building supplies, or other larger items). In these situations, the items are usually trashed — which requires large, expensive dumpsters as well as boatloads of volunteer (or paid staff) hours that could be better utilized in other ways.

dumpsters

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Thanks to so many of my former organizing clients (and that fact that I’m such a big fan of buying used) I’ve talked with many local non-profit organizations about what donations are most helpful and least helpful for them.

A manager of a local Habitat Re-Store explained that they are having issues with so many people dropping off furniture (couches, sectionals, mattresses, recliners) that are too gross to sell on Craigslist but too expensive to trash. They come at night and drop the items off in the “after hours drop-off” location, forcing the non-profit organization to pay to properly dispose of the items that can’t be sold.

I chatted with a few employees at our local Goodwill, and they mentioned that they fill up their 2 huge dumpsters every week and usually have to haul truckloads of other trash items away on top of all the trash in the dumpsters.

We also have several donation ‘drives’ going on within our church congregation right now. One of them is for sturdy children’s shoes and sandals. They are going to be donated to children in South Africa via one of our missionary families. And although I doubt anyone in our church would purposely give horribly worn shoes to these children, they did specify over and over again that these shoes will most likely be the ONLY pair of shoes this child owns, and they will get passed down to younger siblings, so to please donate sturdy shoes in excellent (or brand new) condition.

Finally, I recently read this very well written article about what not to put in those Christmas Shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child (or whatever organization you’re working with). It was not a rude article at all, but WOW was it eye-opening. So often, items we thinks might be fun or cute for little boys and girls on the other side of the world are actually extremely offensive and completely useless to them… meaning that all our good intentions fall flat.

And speaking of good intentions, when was the last time you donated food to a food pantry? Did you donate brand new food or the stuff that has been sitting in your pantry for longer than you can remember?

donated bread

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Although your intentions might be in the right place, I would highly encourage you to thoroughly check all expirations dates before donating any food items — or better yet, donate brand new food directly from the store. Otherwise, these non-profit organizations need to use valuable volunteer hours to meticulously sort through all the food donations to make sure nothing is expired.

The accounting firm my sister works for recently volunteered to help a food pantry sort through all their donated food. My sister’s job was to sort out the expired food, opened food, and half-empty containers of food (yes, people really did donate half empty containers of food!) Although you might think it sounds ridiculous to donate expired or already-opened food items, it apparently happens more than we might think — meaning more volunteer hours are spent weeding through all the donated food.

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I don’t say this to discourage anyone from giving or to make anyone feel bad for donating something that might have been considered trash… and I certainly don’t want to discourage you from donating unneeded items around your own house 🙂

My intention is simply to start a conversation that will encourage all of us to put a little more thought and consideration into what we’re donating.

Yes, there are times when “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” but for the most part, if you think it’s trash, put it in your dumpster instead of burdening your local donation center with it.

And certainly, if you’re giving something through missions, please keep in mind that your gifts are often the only time these people will ever get anything brand new. A new pair of shoes or a brand new t-shirt (without pictures or words) for a little boy or girl in a poverty stricken country will cost you less than $10 but it could quite possibly be the best gift they’ve ever received.

I know there are always exceptions to every rule, and I know there are places that are more capable of repurposing items others might trash… BUT the next time you’re preparing to donate something, please remember that just because someone is poor or experiencing difficult times, doesn’t mean they want our stained clothing, our broken electronics, or our expired food. 

On a related (but different) topic, does anyone have tips or ideas to get a 4 year old little girl excited to give back?

She literally started crying the other day when we picked out a handful of canned goods to bring to a food drive at her school. She thought we were going to give all our food away and then be hungry! Sigh…

Do you have any other useful tips, thoughts, or advice to share?

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51 comments

  1. Tami F

    11/30/2015

    Hi!
    In regards to your any tips/ideas for 4 year little girls getting excited to give back…
    We started a friends-giving piggy bank. Our little girl puts money in her piggy bank regularly. So she has a pig piggy bank and we got a Toothless (How to Train Your Dragon) piggy bank for her friends that she knows or for unknown “new” friends. We picked Toothless because she loves the movies and knew Toothless as being a good friend and helping others. This way its reinforced almost daily to help others thru the year. And as she needs money for friends or donations we count out her money from Toothless. So we use it to support her Dance Company bake sales, when her older friends are selling something for school, Toys for Tots during the Holidays, where we live is cold so each winter season she buys a jacket to donate to the jacket drive.

    She loves putting money in it and loves to count it as she needs it. So built in math lesson, counting plus she’s excited to help someone else. And almost always she puts money in that one first and if we only have one quarter that day she puts it in her friend jar because they need it more than me.

    Just a thought, it has worked better than I expected it too.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Tami — this is a great idea!

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  2. Mary in Maryland

    11/23/2015

    While I would never give opened food to a food pantry, I have often free-cycled it. I’m always surprised by how many immediate requests I get.

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  3. Vanessa

    11/20/2015

    Another thing I’ve come across lately is people trying to sell kids toys etc on a Facebook site and saying things like “needs a clean”. If you want to sell it, clean it first!!!!

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  4. Chris K in Wisconsin

    11/18/2015

    The idea of giving money is a wonderful one ~ especially to food banks/ pantries. There are many donations of canned and boxed goods, but there is still the need to purchase fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat, eggs and dairy products for distribution. I ran our food donation program when I was still working, and most of the women brought in bags of food, but the guys were always thrilled they could hand me some cash. For instance, right now the food distribution sites need turkeys. We did get a few donated, but getting them over to the food pantry before they started to defrost was always a challenge, so money was wonderful. The same thing at Christmas and Easter time when families need hams/ turkeys, etc. Plus they always need to purchase potatoes, milk, eggs, and veggies,etc. for each family. And if everyone would always check the expiration dates before they donate, it would make a huge difference in time and talent that is used.

    [Reply]

    Mary Reply:

    I was so excited one year to purchase a bag full of food for the Postal Service food drive. After spending $30-40 at the store I went home and packed it up and realized there was a letter about monetary donations attached to the bag that explained how much a few dollar could buy. Because they are (assumedly) getting whole sale prices and possibly deep discounts from food supplies my $30 could have bought probably double or triple the amount of food I had just bought at the grocery store. While my intentions were admirable, had I realized how much further my money could have gone I would have been happy to simply write them a check instead.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2011/12/food_drives_charities_need_your_money_not_your_random_old_food_.html

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    thanks for sharing Chris!! I too have heard that money is often the most useful donation when it comes to food pantries

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  5. Michelle

    11/18/2015

    Before our daughter’s birthday or Christmas we would talk to her about kids who don’t have mommies or daddies to celebrate their birthday or wouldn’t have very many Christmas presents. We would talk about how lucky she was to have all of those things and that she would be likely getting more things. A way she could help mommy and daddy get ready would be to go find three things or fill a box of things she didn’t think she would use again or things she would want one of those children to have. We tried to keep it small and short so she stayed excited and not overwhelmed at the big boxes of things leaving. We wanted her to have the memory of helping others and participating, but the bulk of it we did while she slept or was away from it. If she felt unhappy about things being missing we talked about how happy she was making other children and how proud of her we were and reminded her of the upcoming birthday presents that she could expect.

    It’s gotten easier and she does it on her own now from time to time. Now we tell her we will match whatever she wants to donate to what cause she gets excited about helping. It’s helped her be aware of others needs and her ability to help.

    Also, at that age I started volunteering at the church sorting the donations people brought. I brought her with me to sort clothes and look for expiration dates on food. It was eye opening for both of us.

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  6. Monica

    11/18/2015

    Could you take Nora shopping and buy one item she likes for your family and the same item to donate. That way she is helping her family and someone else’s family and her fear may be gone.

    [Reply]

  7. Katy

    11/18/2015

    I think this is a great post. I was on the other side of this issue 6 months ago when we lost our home and everything but the clothes on our back in a tornado (thankfully my family only sustained minor injuries). We were so incredibly blessed by so many people with gifts of money, clothing, food and household items and I don’t want to sound ungrateful at all…but we did have a few not-so-great moments. For instance, I opened a bag of clothing that was donated to us, and found that the clothing was very visibly dirty, and had actual french fries scattered throughout the bag…needless to say, we disposed of that clothing.

    Before the tornado, I had the attitude that I think many people share, the idea that people in need should just be thankful to have clothes, even if they aren’t the most stylish or nice…but after having to wear some very unattractive clothing for a few days, I realize that isn’t always true. I had lost all of my clothes, my makeup and everything that made me feel “like me.” When I finally was able to get to a store and buy some clothes that were more “me,” I felt so much better and it really raised my spirits in such a difficult time. I am certainly not a fashionista by any means, but we all have certain fabrics and styles that we prefer. This may seem vain to some, but when you go through something like that, it’s little “unimportant” things that sometimes make a big difference in how you feel.

    Once again, I am not trying to sound ungrateful for all of the blessings we have received, just sharing a perspective from the other side of the donation bin.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    wow — sorry to hear that Katy. But thanks for sharing your side. I do think it’s hard for some of us to really think about what it would feel like if we couldn’t provide for ourselves or our families. Yes, hand-me-downs are great… but something new and “us” is just so fabulous. Even after having a baby, people bring meals and all of them are appreciated… but some are definitely more ‘useful’ and “thoughtful” 🙂

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    Katy Reply:

    I should clarify that I am totally fine with used clothes and do a lot of thrift store/rummage sale shopping. My main point is just that even when a person is in need, that doesn’t mean they really want to wear extremely out-dated, worn out clothing…so I always keep that in mind when donating items.

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  8. April

    11/18/2015

    Had to smile about Nora’s reaction to gathering a few canned goods for the food drive. My daughter was exactly the same – always an extreme reaction to everything.

    [Reply]

  9. Julie

    11/18/2015

    Hello,
    Great post! 😉 Giving quality, healthy, unexpired food is great for food banks! However, what is even better sometimes is money! When we give money they can buy exactly the food they need wholesale. So, they can get much more food for the same amount of donation. Happy giving this holiday season!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, I’ve heard that organizations can often buy 10 times more food if we give money!

    [Reply]

  10. Michele

    11/18/2015

    In regards to you question about a four year old little girl: last week my four year old shared her Hello Kitty vaporizer with a baby that we know. Normally, this would never happen (even though it has been sitting in the back of her closet). But knowing that this little girl was sick and that the vaporizer could help her sleep better was enough for my daughter to part with it. (And tell me repeatedly that her HK was helping someone else.) Maybe expressing the need of another would help her? (Although I am fairly certain you probably do this already.)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, we tried that approach. I explained that some people don’t have enough money to buy food for their children and family so they don’t have lots of food in their kitchen and refrigerator like we do. Her response was “well, if they don’t have food at home, they should just go out to eat”. It was somewhat difficult for me not to start laughing 🙂

    [Reply]

  11. Sheila

    11/18/2015

    As far as helping little ones learn to give, we always “adopted” a child from the Salvation Army or other such organization at Christmas. They give a wish list for the child and you buy for them off that list. Our children loved shopping for the little child and picking out pretty things for them. It is the perfect opportunity to talk to children about how others don’t have the things that we do and how we can bring joy to others through our generosity.

    [Reply]

  12. Edie

    01/15/2015

    My mom volunteers with a local Christian based thrift store. Her job is to sort the baby and toddler clothing, and she finds clothes that all too often should have just been trashed. The worst is when obviously unwashed clothing is donated!

    [Reply]

  13. JJ

    12/09/2014

    My husband’s grandparents were missionaries to Africa. Someone sent them USED tea bags. They had mold on them. That has stuck out in my mind when I give to others. Thank you for this post!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    REDICULOUS!!

    [Reply]

  14. Lisa Rohrssen

    12/07/2014

    I volunteer at my local food bank and one afternoon I had to go through the food and throw out anything expired it was bins and bins of things. I kept thinking I know legally the food bank can’t tie that stuff out but can’t it be brought somewhere where people could have to choice to use it or not? Not just toss it in the trash.

    I agree in not just cleaning out your cabinets. Some of the stuff I see are obvious cast offs from gift baskets or specialty food places. We were limited on how many items we could give out to each person so I always felt it was more important to tie them FOOD rather than fancy condiments. The choice between a can of soup and sun dried tomato spread to me seem obvious.

    One way I get rid of things that the thrift store would not want it Freecycle. Most cities have them it’s a yahoo group. I post what I have and the honest condition (broken, torn stained etc) Someone ALWAYS wants it. I haul it out to my covered porch, email the person my address and voila it disappears.

    [Reply]

  15. Juds

    12/06/2014

    I work at a domestic abuse shelter and I am always stunned at the garbage people drop off just so they can get a tax deduction for their crappy stuff. Then, as you mention, we have to pay to haul it all away, plus pay for the electronic things. Easily, only thirty-percent of what we receive is usable.

    [Reply]

  16. Marie

    12/06/2014

    My son works at our local Goodwill store and you would be absolutely amazed at some of the things people “donate”(The workers call it dumping their garbage off). And in no way do I mean for this to come off as rude. But they will open up bags and boxes and have moldy clothing and items obviously from a wet or damp basement, soiled clothing(no need to go any further), items that do not work and therefore go directly into the dumpster and furniture and clothing with rips and tears that goes to the dumpster. And they have their dumpsters emptied on Mon, Wed, and Fri. every week. They do have a bin where they put items that can be given to the needy but not sold, as long as it isn’t stained or ripped very badly. For the most part people are good about what they donate but he says there has not been a day that he has worked to where he has had to throw items into the dumpster.

    [Reply]

  17. Allison

    12/06/2014

    Andrea- very well said!! I think it forces us to really examine a big problem that most people don’t think about. With regards to food donation, my church (along with other churches) has started a drive each holiday season starting before thanksgiving which they request food donations, as well as brand new toys and other goods like toothbrushes, etc. its called Gift of Hope and it’s been a big help in our community for the last several years.
    Our grocery stores offer a lot of buy one get one free deals so we often donate the free item as well to local help organizations. We figure it’s free for us so why not share some with others who are less fortunate.

    [Reply]

  18. Luba

    12/05/2014

    Thanks for the great article, Andrea. This reminds me of the time when missionaries said that they received used tea bags from someone in America. Yes, used tea bags. Your article needs to be distributed widely! 🙂

    [Reply]

  19. Roxanne

    12/05/2014

    Very well said !!

    [Reply]

  20. Liane

    12/05/2014

    I am so happy to see this also. I used to shop at thrift stores and noticed the quantity of useable donations was dwindling. A clerk told me that people use our store as a trash can for stuff we cannot sell.

    A few bullet points to keep in mind:

    Due to tremendous pressure by environmentalists and what some call greenies, landfills are no longer places to take trash. Used to be when I was a girl, one drove to the dump to get rid of stuff that was unusable. Now, one must pay by weight at a transfer station and it’s not cheap. So it is not uncommon to see couches and old appliances dropped off on county roads. Transfer stations in my area have hours that necessitate taking a day off from ones job. They are closed on weekends.

    Due to outsourcing the manufacturing of just about everything, the quality of goods sold in the US has decreased radically. I have replaced two very expensive microwave ovens in the last ten years. Two G.E. CONVECTION models that cost over $1000 had to be landfilled. Ditto for dishwashers. In the first 20 years I lived here, I had one Kitchen Aid dishwasher made in the US. When it died a violent and fiery death, we replaced it. We currently are on replacement number three. I have a 25 year old crockpot that I use weekly. I have thrown away three made in China crockpots in the last 5 years. Clothing also is poorly made, as is upholstered pieces. We went the slipcovered Pottery Barn route and boy I am so happy. So where does this go? Well it goes to the fact that Americans replace much much more stuff that becomes useless and it’s hard to get rid of the broken and unwanted.

    As far as gross broken down furniture goes, most adult Ed and developmentally handicapped training centers offer upholstery classes. I took one to learn but there were voc tech students who needed furniture to learn on. Those places need those old sofas and chairs.

    If clothing is ragged and tattered and made from good quality cloth, meaning cotton, it can be used to weave rag rugs. The rag rugs like you have in your mud room and kitchen can be homemade. There are crafts persons who covet rags to make rugs and they often sell them to raise money for charities.

    Homeless shelters will take anything that is usable despite it being an ugly color. Often homeless show up in the only clothes they own. Jeans with holey knees are a vast improvement over the ones that the gentleman has had on for several months.

    My point is this – we need to examine our consumer practices and learn to repair, refinish and repaint. We need to repurpose old towels, for example animal shelters will take old towels with frayed edges, so long as the center still has some towel left! We need to consider the life expectancy of things we do purchase. I know I am preach to the choir here, and you set a really good example.

    One last thought and that is, that rather than unloading old expired food is to volunteer labor. Time given is so appreciated. And a bonus for teens is that it really helps on those old college applications. Not that they should volunteer just to put it on their app, but nowadays it is nearly impossible to get into a good 4 year college with just a 4.0. Teaching volunteerism goes hand in hand with teaching generosity of material goods.

    Thanks Andrea for a thought provoking post.

    [Reply]

    Jean Reply:

    Andrea, I love the heart of your article which is, love our neighbor as ourself.

    Liane, wonderful thoughts on being wise consumers and to be thoughtful of how to recycle so much of what we dump. We are a society that does a very poor job of making do with what we have.

    [Reply]

  21. Ann

    12/05/2014

    Parent Talk Tip #905: Cleaning out your clothes closet or giving your old coat to the needy is teaching your children to only give what they don’t want. (Chick Moorman)
    I personally believe it can be good to give these things but we should also sometimes give what we want!

    [Reply]

  22. Keli

    12/05/2014

    This is a great post! I have trashed a lot of stuff recently as I deemed it not usable by anyone. In my area we have a local charity thrift shop that takes stained and ripped clothing as they do sell to a company that recycles the clothes for reuse and they get paid for it. I like that clothes no one can use will help the charity out with their programs.

    [Reply]

  23. rebecca

    12/05/2014

    I agree with your post, but I thought it was funny that you posted a picture of recycling dumpsters when referencing an organization’s need for large dumpsters for unusable items. It cracked me up.

    And oh my goodness has Simon gotten big! He’s adorable and just like Nora he has beautiful eyes.

    Regarding the food donation, you are 100% right. I used to be in charge of our food drive at church and would end up throwing away about 1/4 of the food donated because Catholic Charities can only accept unopened, nonexpired food because of liability issues. We had several people donate food they canned themselves, but Catholic Charities couldn’t accept it because they don’t know if it was preserved correctly, was the kitchen clean and sanitary, was it stored correctly, etc.

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  24. Rose

    12/05/2014

    Love it! You are 100% correct!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Happy Holidays to you and all your readers~

    [Reply]

  25. Lee Cockrum

    12/05/2014

    One suggestion I have for items that still have some use or value, but would most likely get trashed at Goodwill etc, is to use Freecycle. It is a Yahoo group that is divided into local geographic areas. You can often find someone who wants the specific item you have. We have found homes for broken lawn mowers (people who use them for parts), the broken motor for our bathroom whirlpool tub (retired engineer was happy to rebuild it and repurpose it). Someone even wanted old DVD cases when I put all our DVDs into one large DVD book. Generally the person who wants the item comes to pick it up. At least by listing it you have a chance to find the niche where it could be used. If I list something, and there is no interest, I feel like I can trash it with a clear conscience!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes — this is a great suggestion. Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Nancy Reply:

    I love FreeCycle. Similarly, at a garage sale I have labeled items “free for someone who likes projects”. Recently, I gave away a large trash container that was missing the wheels, and a wooden hamper that was nicer than what you can buy now, but the back was blown out from years of being overstuffed. I couldn’t donate those items in good conscience, but couldn’t bring myself to just trash them. So I was thrilled that people took them off for rehab!

    [Reply]

  26. Kris

    12/05/2014

    Thank you! Whenever we volunteer for any of this type of stuff I am surprised what people think is acceptable to donate. My boys are scouts and we have participated in scouting for food for the past 7 years. As the people picking up the donations off of door steps we do eye ball things and pull out anything that is open (yes, we get stuff that is used). This year there was a 1/2 used bottle of body wash in the donations. Really??!! Also, if you are in doubt call the place or go to the website. They usually list what they don’t accept for donations. GoodDonor.org is a good place to go. They have check off boxes for type of donation so that you are schedule with the correct charity. I use it all the time for my donations. I don’t even had to leave the house and I know that what I am donating is going to the charity that wants it.

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  27. Anna

    12/05/2014

    I agree! Our church has two yards sales every year to raise money
    for various outreach programs and it is crazy the things that people donate.
    What I can’t get over are the large boxes of junk that you can tell
    have been held onto for years. Even though the contents may be nasty
    and non-usable, I guess some people just can’t bear to trash it themselves.
    I don’t have that problem!

    [Reply]

  28. Emily

    12/05/2014

    Great post! Very thought provoking. 🙂 One of our local food pantries (Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes) can actually get more food for their money by buying pallets of food rather than having people donate food. When we have had food drives through church we ask for monetary donations rather than food items.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    YES! I wanted to suggest just donating cash to food pantries — but I know some people really like doing the shopping and giving physical goods. But I know you’re right. I saw a whole documentary on it one time — they could literally get tons and tons of food on pallets for about $0.10 per pound. So once again, the simplest option (cash) is usually the most helpful for the organization 🙂

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  29. Stephenie

    12/05/2014

    I would have to research further or maybe you know, but I think for Goodwill you can mark clothing as “stained or ripped” in a separate bag and they can benefit from that by selling the fabric by weight to be recycled in other ways. You’re right though, do it for the volunteers and just send it labeled that way. But unless I’m wrong, that at least can still be used.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I’ve heard this before too Stephenie — but like you, I haven’t really looked into it enough to know for sure. Often I’ll just used the ripped and stained clothes as rags for myself 🙂 Especially t-shirts and sweatshirts!

    [Reply]

    Kortney Reply:

    Yes! Thrift stores can + do sell otherwise unusable clothes in “rag bales.”

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    Ellen Reply:

    I don’t know how it works in the US, but in Sweden H&M have started to collect old clothes. You bring a bag of old clothes (fabric of any kind really, not only H&M clothes) and I think they give you a gift card or something in return!

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  30. Leanne

    12/05/2014

    GREAT POST….
    Jesus do to other as you want done to you….
    if you wouldn’t want it given to you or your child don’t give it….
    My boys and I are volunteering at one of our local organizations that helps parents “shop” for Christmas toys (that way the parent not the organization is the hero)…
    time is ALWAYS a good gift!

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  31. Stel

    12/05/2014

    Absolutely.
    I’ve been clearing our house in anticipation for our big move, and have been carting many bootfulls to our local hospice shop. The also have big signs, asking to “Donate, don’t dump”. Luckily, they have a big shop, so I could donate anything from books to clothing, toys, fabric, yarn, kitchen stuff to…broken electronics and appliances, as they get people who buy these specifically to fix up. Meaning you broken have to be fixable!

    What I do with the items that is not suitable to donate, but can and will still be used buy many with no other option, is tog bag it separately and put it in the trash. We have lots of scavengers at our waste disposal sites in South Africa – not ideal -but these people are an absolute example of re-using. It is amazing what they can take out of the trash, and resell or re-use in a different format.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    wow — that’s such an awesome idea Stel! We dont’ have scavengers around my house (at least not that I know of) but I love how you separate and tag specific trash bags that might be useable. Thanks for sharing!

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    Stel Reply:

    Jip, these people at the waste disposal site are the absolute desperate. We also have “trolley guys” – unemployed, homeless, with makeshift trolleys, wo scour the street on garbage removal day, and will search through trash for metal, plastic and paper, to sell and recycling points – and that’s how they make a living. Before we had a recycling service in our neighbourhood, I’d put my recycling in a separate bag for them as well.

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  32. lydia @ Five4FiveMeals

    12/05/2014

    Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen.

    [Reply]

  33. stacie

    12/05/2014

    Hi Andrea
    I am so glad you posted this! I was shopping yesterday for the second time for another food pantry donation, and everyone I talk to does not understand why I am BUYING the food! It is merely peoples thoughts that the poor should just be given food or items that we just dont want or has sat in our homes too long to use now! It is so sad because then it is just wasted as the pantrys cant give away spoiled or outdated food etc. So it is soooo important that when we shop we are only buying food and items that we will really be eating/using! This will cut down on so much wasted food as well as STUFF just taking up space! Amen!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Stacie! and how awesome that you are so generous!

    I’ll admit, I usually don’t got shopping (at the store) for food pantries, but I do have a large food stockpile downstairs full of non-expired, quality foods that I “shop” from. We also have a large need for teen toiletry items for a program our church helps out with — so i’ve used some of the credit I have built up via ePantry.com to buy and donate used toiletries for that ministry. It feels good to give such quality, brand-name items without breaking my budget 🙂

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