I hate clutter.  Always have.  I like clean surfaces and a place for everything.  Sometimes I wish I could deal with what I think of as clutter, especially after visiting someone’s house who has artwork, mementos, bric-a-brac and knick knacks everywhere.  I think of their homes as charming, lived in.  I come home to my own house and try to do the same thing.  Inevitably, though, I end up clearing all the windowsills, the end tables and dressers of all the little things I’ve set up in an effort to be different from who I am.  In the end I always find peace in emptiness.

If I do find a place in my house that’s become cluttered, it bothers me.  It keeps bothering me until I attack it, organizing, wrangling and restoring it to neat piles and ordered rows.  That’s how I end up with bags of stuff bound for Goodwill.  Goodwill has been the answer to all my de-cluttering needs for years.  It provides the perfect outlet to unload all my unwanted but still in good condition junk while also allowing me to feel good about donating to a worthy cause.  

After attacking a linen closet the other day that had staged a minor but earnest revolt, I was left with two garbage bags filled with mismatched towels, sheets and a slew of Eve’s old baby blankets.  As is always so, their punishment was to be shipped off to Goodwill.  But then I had an idea.  It came to me in the shower where all my good ideas live, right between my bottle of deep conditioner and some peeling grout.  What about the animal shelter?  Wouldn’t they need sheets and towels for taking care of all the animals?  I called the local office, and sure enough, they did.  Like, they really, really did.  By the end of the afternoon, the bags had been dropped off and I had successfully talked myself out of bringing home a new cat.

This got me thinking:  Dropping stuff off at Goodwill instead of throwing it away is good, but finding a place to take it who has a specific need for it is even better.  It felt really good to provide the animal shelter with something for which they were in dire need.  Where else could I take stuff?  Here are some of the ideas that came to me from within my shaving cream container:

1.  Toys that Eve’s outgrown.  I had been trying to save said toys for any future siblings (Simmer down, grandparents.  Not yet.). Not only was I running out of room, however, I realized that any future siblings would amass a similar toy collection of their own.  Why was I saving all of these toys?  I realize that I could take some of them to a consignment store and make a little cash, but I have a problem with selling anything that was given to us.  I know, I know.  But still.  So, I thought, what about preschools and daycares in the area?  Surely they could always be an excellent new home for gently used toys.

2.  Business casual clothing.  I have to face the reality that there are some things in my closet that, like the invention of fat-free butter, are just never going to happen.  I have several items I wore every damn day to work before having Eve without thinking a thing of it that I can’t even try on now without my thighs snickering at me.  Instead of hauling these off to Goodwill, why not donate them to a women’s shelter or to a program like this?  There are tons of programs out there who help homeless and/or battered women get back on their feet by providing business clothing and accessories for job interviews.  I also found out about The Princess Project and The Glass Slipper Project to which you can donate old prom dresses and other formal and semi-formal attire and accessories for high school girls who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford them.  What a neat idea!  And what a great place to take all the formal dresses in my closet!  Wait.  No.  But I know I have at least one sister who was in a sorority in college and might find this to be a great idea as well.

3.  Books.  (This one’s for you, KeAnne — you can do it, my book-hoarding friend.  Free yoself, Miss Scarlett!)  I was running into the same problem with Evie’s outgrown books that I was having with her outgrown clothes.  And I have boxes and boxes of books that I’ve already read or know I will never read.  I know it’s hard to part with books, but if you do it really fast, it doesn’t hurt at all.  And your local liberry would be so appreciative of the donation.  What they can’t add to their own collection they’ll sell at annual countywide book sales to make a little money on the side.  Who doesn’t want to help their liberry earn a little money?

4.  School supplies.  While cleaning out the garage today I found a box filled with hanging files, staples, paper clips, hole punchers, pens, paper and loads of other office supply detritus.  I don’t know how we ended up with all of this, but unless we’re planning on opening a Staples franchise, we don’t need all of it.  You know who would?  The elementary school down the street.  I bet they’d take it off our hands.

5.  Gill’s old tools.  Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise, my husband will never work on a motorcycle in order to receive a paycheck again.  But he was a motorcycle mechanic for, like, 45 years before switching careers.  He has a lot of tools.  No, a lot.  I plan on taking them to the community college once Gill goes through them.  I’m sure someone in their mechanics department would grunt appreciatively upon receiving them.  Actually, come to think of it, I may just have Evie run them down there after Gill gets around to sorting them out.  She should have her driver’s license by the time that happens.

I’m still trying to think of other things in my house to donate.  In fact, I’m starting to think of Goodwill now as a last resort.  Poor Goodwill. 

What kinds of things can you think of to donate and to where?