Giving Is Receiving (Just Give Something People Would Actually Like To Receive)

by Alessandra Cavalluzzi

If you’ve ever purged your closets in preparation for the next season, then you are familiar with the “donation pile”.  You know what I’m talking about, right? That little mountain of clothes, shoes, and accessories that starts forming on the bedroom floor as you go through your drawers, shelves, and bins.   Things that no longer fit or stuff we look at and wonder “what was I thinking when I bought this?”.   If you have kids, the pile is even bigger.  They’re constantly moving from trend to trend.  Last year’s “must have” is this year’s cast-off. 

The good news is that there are plenty of great non-profits that accept donations of clothing and accessories for people of all ages.  Big Brothers Big Sisters, Dress for Success, Bottomless Closet and Career Gear are just a few.   Many soup kitchens, shelters, and places of worship also accept clothing donations.  Check your local community for a non-profit near you.

Items don’t have to be brand new, and “gently worn” is ok.  There are definite no-no’s, however.  Stained or dirty clothing, and items that are torn, excessively worn, or have holes in them are not acceptable. A good rule of thumb when assessing an item’s donation-worthiness is to ask yourself this question: “Would I let one of my family members wear this?”  If your answer is “no”, then toss it. 

If you’re really stumped, you can call the non-profit and inquire about their donation guidelines.  I recommend this because guidelines sometimes vary from organization to organization and some may be stricter than others depending on the type of items they collect.

The worst thing you could do is just put everything you don’t want in a bag and drop it off at the non-profit for them to sort.  This is bad for many reasons:

1.     It takes a long time to sort through clothing and accessories (I know this first hand having performed this task as a volunteer). It takes hours to go through bags of clothing donations

2.     The non-profits are not staffed with enough people to go through literally hundreds of bags of donations to separate the wearable from non-wearable items

3.     The time it takes for volunteers to sort through items and discard things that cannot be worn is time taken away from another important task a volunteer could be doing

4.     It's a matter of dignity.  The people who receive the items deserve to have clothing that is not stained and ripped

You know that great feeling you get when you put on a brand new outfit for the first time?  The boost of confidence it gives you?  The extra spring it puts in your step?  That’s the same feeling the person who receives your clothes will feel when they put on their “new” outfit.  Think of that as you gather your donations. 

Remember that someone who is in great need will be receiving your items. Something that may be “old” to you will be brand new to them. 

Giving is good. Let’s give good things.