Done With It? Donate It!!

It's easy to identify the clothing you wear most often, or kitchen appliances that see daily use. What about the other extreme - how often do you reach to the back of the closet or cupboard? What is lurking back there that you’ve forgotten you own? If you can’t remember the last time you used that crock-pot, or you wonder why there are clothes in your closet with dust on them, consider letting go. 

Thrift stores are always hungry for your gently used things. The mini-food processor you haven’t touched since 2012 might be just the thing for a working single parent. The skirt that never really suited you might look great on somebody else - move it along to another home. 

How to decide what could go?  

Ask yourself these three questions.
1) How much clearing out do I need to do? For example, are you wearing things from the floor of your closet because all the hanging space is filled with clothes you haven’t worn in years? Or are you simply tired of always having to move the serving dishes your mother-in-law gave you that you never use? 
2) How long has it been since I used it? More than a few months and it’s seriously a good candidate. For seasonal and sentimental items, you can relax the standard a bit. Warning - if you find yourself feeling sentimental about most things, get a second opinion from a friend. 
3) Do I have multiples of the same thing? If your closet or storage spaces are always overflowing, decide how many pairs of slacks, blouses, jeans, shoes, raincoats, etc. that you need and start weeding. You might need to take a couple passes at it, but it can be done.

Before you dive in, grab some bags or boxes to collect the things you’ll be donating. At the end of your ‘editing the closet’ session, take the boxes and put them in the car. Make a note in your calendar of when you’ll be dropping off your donations.

The North Bay has dozens of thrift shops. This link will take you to a listing of most of the shops in Santa Rosa, just scroll down a bit. You can also look around the rest of Sonoma County from that same link. Some stores are part of national organizations; others support homegrown non-profit causes. You’ll be sure to find one near you that you want to support.

Do -
  • Check with the store you plan to donate to. Many thrift stores won’t take pillows or mattress covers because of bed bugs, some don’t take electronic or digital devices. Know before you go!
  • Find out what hours they accept donations. Some don’t have the resources to staff a donation drop off every hour they’re open. This is more common with smaller stores that are grass roots in origin.
  • Ask for a receipt if you plan to claim the donation as a tax deduction. Check with your tax advisor about amounts to claim.

Don’t -

  • Donate unusable items - The stores pay to have garbage hauled away, and if your donations are broken, dirty, or unidentifiable, it costs the organization money.
  • Donate anything with identifying information on it. Wipe computer hard drives and cell phones, for example. Check purses and briefcases for name/address tags or credit cards. Remove address tags from luggage. 
  • Leave things at the store when they are closed or simply not receiving donations. This takes staff away from other work, and is considered littering. It can also cause problems with the store’s business neighbors. 

    Letting go of things you don’t use helps you by making it easier to access the things you use frequently. It helps others with less money to spend on necessities, such as decent clothing or dishes for their family. It’s a win-win all the way around.

This post was created by the following NBOC members:
Ruth Hansell of Clutter Demolition