April 26, 2005

Take It All

I have a propensity to give more away than I really should. It always starts out innocently enough, make a phone call to the Salvation Army to pick up a used, (but in good condition), piece of furniture and the next thing I know, I've got a giant box of my stuff sitting by the door for them to collect also.

Last week I decided to do away with my bookshelves and a computer desk as I finally found replacements that I actually wanted. Of course I could sell the items on E-Bay or put an ad in the paper but since they were relatively cheap in price to begin with and I don't want to deal with the hassle of selling, I called up GoodWill. Well, apparently, Goodwill doesn't want many of your things. I thought they were an organization that helped people get things for their home and themselves at a much reduced rate in their warehouses but I was wrong. After 4 calls to different Goodwills, I was directed by someone there to call the Salvation Army.

I've donated to St. Vincent de Paul and Goodwill in the past with money or clothing or by convincing everyone in the office at work to make one of them the recipient of our collections in a charity drive but I'd never given to the Salvation Army. The aforementioned charity places have become increasingly picky with what they will take and I find that disheartening. I understand that they don't want some ragged, torn up, pee stained couch but unless the item is high end or practically brand new, they turn their nose up at it. Whatever happened to "beggars can't be choosers"?

Regardless, I got on the phone with Salvation Army and they were more than delighted to come get my furniture and they made the offer to pick it up. I did not have to ask them if they would do it. Salvation Army gets a gold star.

After making the arrangements to have a driver show up on Thursday, the rep on the other end informed that they are having a clothing drive, do I have any clothes to give away? I did. Two weeks ago. Before I said heck with it and threw them all in the trash because I didn't think that it would feasible for someone to come pick those up as there weren't that many. Enough to clothe someone for a week, I suppose but really, why drive all that way, spending money on gas?

I sat there, feeling a twinge of guilt for throwing perfectly good clothing away when I could have held on to them for any possible future pick ups or could have dropped them off or called or something. I told the rep that I would look around to see if I might have anything but that it probably wouldn't be that much.

I hung up the phone and immediately started looking through my closets and dresser drawers to see if I could part with something. I mean, there are people far less fortunate than me who need clothes. I have tons of clothes. I can give some of them away.

As I perused the first closet, I realized, I don't have as many items of clothing as I thought I did. Whenever I move, I end up tossing so much stuff or giving away so much stuff and if I do it in steps, spread apart, I don't realize how much I'm giving away. Until I go to give more away. What I found myself staring at were a plethora of coats and jackets and some tops. I've given or tossed away almost 75% of my wardrobe over the past year. Still, none of it went to charity so I have to find something right?

I gathered about 10 shirts and 3 pairs of shorts, all in really nice condition, and as I examined each one, imagined the delight on someone's face as they picked it out for purchase in the Salvation Army store. I could see them buying one of the shirts, anxious to get home, wash it and then put it on. I could see them boucning around the city with their new shirt on, beaming from ear to ear that they found such a cool top for such a low price.

That's when I found myself tearing through my house trying to find more to give. After an hour of going through everything I owned for the third time, (to pick up stragglers), I ended up with, yet again, a very large box filled with not only clothes but some stuffed animals I had saved over the years, books, computer games, a digital camera, battery re-charger, tools, bedding, etc.

My friends don't think I have much as it is but you would be amazed at how much you actually have. Anyone who has ever moved will know this feeling. I'm getting used to parting with things and have made myself committ to the rule that if you don't use it for six months, get rid of it. This is why I have another gigantic box, sitting by my door, waiting for the Salvation Army guy on Thursday. He will take that, the bookshelves, the computer desk, and, if he submits any further information about things they need, I may give them more. I can't help myself.

I also never take a tax write off on anything I've ever donated. Ever. To me it seems wrong. To me, you should donate because you want to give someone else something that you no longer need or want. You should donate because it's helping someone or many people out. You should not donate because you may get money out of it. Now that's just how I feel. If others want to get tax write offs, all the more power to them. I just can't operate that way. It just feels wrong to me. Many would probably remark that I'm a dumbass then for not taking money from the government for helping out but despite how much the government steals from us, I just can't follow that same path. I give because it's the right thing to do, I get happiness from it and I know that someone else will get something from my donations. That IS enough for me.

I am probably giving away about $500-1000 worth of stuff and I have forced myself to stop looking for anything else to give away. In the last year, I have given away just about everything I ever owned. I have new stuff in its place, of course, but I've got to learn to curb this desire to outfit the entire world with clothing and furniture.

Giving is good but if I give away too much, I will find myself at the Salvation Army buying my own stuff back. And that's not good.

Posted by S. Faolan Wolf at April 26, 2005 02:30 PM

The Salvation Army gets my full support. When we were children from a very, very poor Vermont family, if it hadn't been for the Salvation Army, me and my 5 other siblings would not have had Thanksgiving (SA brought us food baskets filled with potatoes, stuffing, fixings for pies and the biggest and best turkey a bunch of kids ever gobbled.) At Christmas they would bring us toys, home made knitted mittens, socks and scarves and our Christmas dinner. During the year my Mom would shop at SA for school clothes, shoes etc. Because of the generocity of kind folks that gave unselfishly, it enhanced our lives tremendously. I give to them now (wether its clothing, stuff and at Christmas in the bell ringers pots because I know that they are one organization that does help in their communities and what a big difference they had made in my life.

Posted by: D Spaulding at April 26, 2005 05:32 PM

It feels good to have a clean out. I give a lot of clothes away because this house only has 2 small wardrobes and there is just no storage space. But yeah - a few months later I often think "where is that shirt" and then remember I gave it away or threw it out. Great blog by the way!

Posted by: Ruth at April 28, 2005 08:46 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?