At the start of this year I decided not to make any resolutions as such but instead to give what I could when I could to help others and embark on #myyearofgiving. I also decided to document some of the things that I do throughout the year, not to brag or fish for compliments but to show people ways they can make a difference and to encourage more people to do the same.
During the month of January there have been two main acts of giving that I have done following a big clear out.
1). Donating clothes
Every now and then we have a big clothes clear out as the boys seem to grow so quickly and there is only so much room in their wardrobes, so we do an “out with the old and in with new” session. Normally I would bag these clothes up, put them in the garage or the boot of my car, with every intention of taking them to the charity shop. Sometimes weeks or months can go by before I get round to actually moving the bags and on occasion they have actually been known to end up in the tip before now, simply because we were doing a tip run and I was fed up of the sight of them.
This time however, I was adamant that I didn’t want to take them to a tip, I wanted someone to get use out of them and to be honest I didn’t want to take them to a charity shop either. I know I might sound a little daft and I know that all money raised from donations goes to the charity so it is doing good but I just seem to have gone off charity shops. The prices of the items used to mean that families in crisis could nip in and afford to buy clothes or toys for their families but now with the more affordable shops such as B & M or home bargains the prices of the second hand goods are not better and the ethos seems to have changed. It also concerns me that a proportion of the money goes to running costs, electricity, staff wages etc and although I will still charity shops for certain things I really wanted to donate our used clothes to families that would appreciate them now, especially as a few items were brand new still with the tags on.
Following this mass clear out I had two bin bags full of clothes, predominantly boys ages 2-4, in very good condition and some women’s winter clothes too. My first thought was Women’s aid, so many women seek refuge and turn up with nothing so I gave them a ring. At first I was told they would love the clothes and would ring me back later in the week to arrange collection as they are unable to allow drop offs due to the discretion required around the location of the refuges. I was made up, until I never received a call back. I tried again and this time I was told they were unable to take the clothes, despite acknowledging the fact they needed them, simply because the shelter near me had no storage room for them, which is such a shame. I was disappointed but I also wanted to get rid of the bags before I changed my mind and dropped them at the charity shop or worse yet the tip, so I asked if they knew where I could donate them. I was given the number of a local community hub who helps families in a town near mine. I rang them and they said they could use them immediately, gave me their address and thanked me for thinking of them (I didn’t take the credit, I told them about the referral). The next day the clothes were dropped off and right now their is a family(ies) who have additional clothing they may not have been able to afford before and that is so much more satisfying than taking them to a charity shop.
So, if you are planning on having a clear out and you want to donate your clothes and really make a difference my advice would be to ring your local women’s aid and ask if they take donations as many do have the storage facilities, failing that see if there is a community hub near you and give them a ring. Knowing you can help a family out for the costs of a couple of phone calls is definitely worth it.
2). Donate to schools
During the clear out we came across a brand new bag of play sand. We got rid of our sand pit last year as the boys didn’t really play with it so we had no need for this sand. Normally I would have either tried to sell it, or taken it to the tip with the rest of the junk we were taking that day, simply because it was easier. This time however I put it to one side till the Monday morning and asked the tiddlers reception teacher if they could make use of it. She was extremely grateful for the offer as school funds are always low these days and I dropped it off the following day. Seeing how pleased she was made my day and of course there is the added bonus that my son will still get to use it too which is nice.
So before you throw out any arts and crafts type things or anything you think still has some life left in it, it might be worth asking if the school could make use of it and if you do the drop off and picks up anyway then it really is hassle free but will make lots of children happy.
I hope this post has given you some ideas or made you think about what you do with your old stuff and how you could do it differently if you wanted to. If it has inspired you to give more and join in on #myyearofgiving then let me know and I am still looking for other ways to give this year so if you have any ideas please do share them with me.