It’s that time of year when we all vow to make changes in our life and given the popularity of books on downsizing, for many of us this means getting rid of things we no longer use or want.
While the concept of downsizing is wonderful, the execution isn’t – even if you intend to simply donate everything. You will still need to do some research to find the places that will accept the goods you wish to give away, those that will pick them up free of charge, and what happens to your donated goods once they leave your home. The latter may not matter to you but I like to think that the things I donate will be put to a good use in the community.
A lot of information is available online. The sites I visited listed the places that accepted donations, what types of items they wanted and / or did not want, whether they picked up the donations free of charge or whether you had to deliver them to their locations.
Knowing which organization provides free delivery is especially important if you intend to donate furniture. Few places will accept furniture due to the bedbug scare several years back and those that do expect that the items are in good condition. Don’t donate something that you wouldn’t have in your own home. Just because someone is accepting your used goods doesn’t mean that they want damaged goods either.
What about more unique items like personal journals, letters, and pictures or other items like medals and awards? If no one in your family is interested in keeping them, speak to your local archives or historical society to see if they would be interested in them. Never throw these things away without checking with them first. Donations such as these are very important to historians and much is lost every year when someone passes away and their personal effects are simply tossed out. It’s a good idea to go over these items with the aged parent or relative to get the stories that will make these objects compelling enough to be accepted by the archives or a museum.
Donating is about much more than tossing a black garbage bag in a charity bin. Making good decisions about what to donate and to whom is important. These objects represent the life of the person to who they belonged – be it you or someone else – and they deserve respect.
Next blog post: Downsizing Part 2: Selling