“I feel so bad just donating my stuff. It feels like I’m just throwing it away.”
You and your things have gone through a lot of life together. They are tangible mementos of trips you have taken, awards you have earned, and people you have loved. They are gifts from friends and art from your children. They have acted as your touchstones throughout the ups and downs of life.
But now that you are moving to a smaller home, and you know that you need to trim down the number of things that you keep. Maybe your children say, “Ah Mom, it’s just stuff. Get rid of it.” But those things have been with you so long it’s as if they have a life of their own, personalities even. It’s hard to just turn your back on them.
If you feel this way you are not alone. Letting go can be a very emotional journey.
So what can you do?
I have heard that some people take pictures of their many items so that they can keep the photo album instead of the things themselves. I have heard of this, but the idea somehow doesn’t appeal to me, so I have never suggested it to my clients.
What appeals to me more — and seems to appeal to many of my clients as well — is to find good homes for the items.
I do much of my clothes shopping in thrift stores. I can tell you how excited I have been to find an upscale jacket at a price that I can afford. Friends of mine have been thrilled with vases and framed pictures that would complement the furniture in their apartments.
Moving Forward was once able to donate an entire 1-bedroom apartment – including matching bedding and towels — to a woman who was graduating from a program that helps homeless women get back on their feet. I met her on the day that volunteers were bringing the things to her new apartment. She was so happy by it all that she was practically in tears.
Even if you don’t get to meet the people who benefit from your generosity, you can know that your donations change people’s lives. Not only the items themselves will be loved and cherished in a new setting, but the money that is earned by the charities who sell them. In Kirkland, Washington a charity called Eastside Community Aid uses their thrift shop proceeds to fund back to school clothing for children living in poverty. Imagine what a relief it is to a child to attend school unashamed of what they are wearing.
Imagine if the things parked in the back of your closet and never getting used get to have a new life loved and cherished in a new context. You many never meet the recipient of your generosity, but I promise you that you will be improving people’s lives.
You could make someone’s day with your donations. Actually you could make a whole lot of someones’ days with your donation. Be a hero. Donate.