Tag Archives: donation

Sorting & Organizing Ideas

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Salvation Army donations

As I’ve been unpacking and sorting boxes, I have come to realize that I hold onto things far beyond their usefulness.  My mother grew up in the years following the Great Depression and was certainly trained to reuse things and not to waste anything.  This translated in saving YEARS worth of magazines that ‘One Day’ she would reread.  That day never came.  And now, I wonder if I don’t have some of the same ‘Great Depression’ tendencies, on a much smaller scale albeit.  So, I question the usefulness of each item as I unpack and try to find new homes for things as we settle into our new house.  I, too, detest wasting anything that still has life remaining.  We are consistent contributors to Salvation Army and Goodwill, for sure.  I always have a current box of donation items waiting in the wings until it is full enough to drop off.

These are the questions I must continually ask myself –

“Is this currently serving a purpose in my home?”

“Will I likely use it in the next year?”

“Could someone else use this more often than I do?”

“Would I miss it if it were gone?”

Last December we moved 1,000 miles so I am very familiar with having to make these tough choices.  And sometimes they are difficult because we cling to our possessions so tightly, it seems.  I’ve grilled myself as to why this is lately and have only come up with the notion that I love deeply, but perhaps that love and affection is often misplaced on things or memories.

Take, for instance, a recent sorting of cards, letters and kids’ artwork … Some of the cards and letters are so special to me, especially since some of the senders have passed on.  Those will be placed in the scrapbook, however, some of the senders I had to pause even to recall WHO they were!  But, I saved every card from select years apparently.  Fortunately, most I tossed.

I have a solution to coral all these fond memories.  I am making a scrapbook for each child that will contain all of their precious artwork.  This way, we can look back on their treasures easily, instead of them getting buried in an old file, where no one will see them.  (Eventually, these albums will be theirs to keep.)

I’m making scrapbooks for old letters and cards as well.  For years I have struggled with what to do with these sentimental artifacts, so I am very excited about getting these organized in a format we all can enjoy!  As I sat on the floor rereading old letters I sent to my husband over a decade ago, I realized what treasures these will be to look back on.  They were personal, of course, but yield a glimpse of the stage our relationship was in at the time and document our deep and enduring love for one another.  Those are the treasures to keep!  I think our children will even enjoy reading them after we’re gone.

Some decisions as we sift and sort are easy ones to make!  (such as the iridescent marbles I saved in a gallon size ziploc!)  That’s an easy one!  I don’t need them.  In fact, those may be the very marbles I am losing on a daily basis!  Maybe it’s time to donate those to charity!  Haha!  As much as we have parted with over the last year in preparation for our move and then facing the harsh reality that not nearly everything we thought would fit in our 26 foot Uhaul with a trailer attached!  We left a lot behind with our neighbor!  (Bow Flex, antique table, and the list is nearly endless)  In the end, there is not a single item that I can say we miss!  As painful as the process of organizing may be, the end result will be far more rewarding!

The above picture is not even all of what we’ve donated post-move!  I counted 25 boxes for the first home pick up and this was the second pick up, which also included an artificial tree and two toy Christmas trains.  (My younger two are 16 and 17.)  The Salvation Army worker asked if the trains were operational.  To which I acknowledged they were.  He smiled and said, “Oh, wow, these are going to make some children very happy!”  🙂  The satisfaction in knowing that something that would have been collecting dust in our storage room would provide enjoyment to others is very rewarding.

I can think more clearly without clutter.  As a full time homemaker, fewer items in our house means less work for me to keep up with those things!  Please do not think we are minimalists because we are far from that.  My ‘Girl Scout mentality’ (Be prepared!) does not allow for sparse living.  However, I am quick to toss items in the donation box if I have no use for them.

The flip side to organizing is being extremely selective about what we bring into our home!  I have been asking myself ‘Do I really need this?  Where will I use it?’ more and more.  And then most times I find myself placing it back on the store shelf.  Just because it’s cute or may be useful does not mean it needs to come home with you.  That is a lesson for us all.  Americans are great consumers, but maybe we should consume a little less.

For some reason, my husband and son love bringing home fliers, business cards, little newspapers.  This is needless clutter!  Unless you’re actually going to use this information, don’t let it stay.  And certainly, don’t allow it to accumulate in piles around the house.  This is why I open the mail over top of the trash can.  I toss or shred it and only keep what I must.  Paper clutter multiplies while we’re sleeping.  We must be watchful and vigilant!  🙂

Happy Organizing and may your home be a place of rest and peace always!

~Amber

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Purging is Therapy for the Soul

tigers

I am a happy camper today!  We visited a new friend, who is expecting her sixth child in a few weeks, and gave several bags of clothes and miscellaneous household items to her.  We had such a nice visit over a cup of hot mint tea.  Perfect remedy for a cold, rainy day! For the first part of our visit, her kids were watching a movie.  Then, one by one, they each came out and I got to meet them.  Precious.  I asked my new friend if they would like a keyboard we have, along with the stand and bench; so she said they would.  I’ll drop that off to her next week.  I’m just so happy to give it to someone who I know can get a lot of use out of it.  It’s been collecting dust in my sewing room, so I’m excited about clearing some space!

Speaking of things taking up space…My husband loves to play theme park games, and over the years, we’ve brought home an assortment of large (super size!) stuffed animals.  He plays those impossible games like basketball and tossing the ring over the milk jugs… and he actually WINS!  He is very methodical about it and has a steady hand.  Some people have all the talent! Anyway, I digress…

Most recently, we had two mondo tigers, who really needed to find a good home.  Last fall, I gave one to another friend, who happens to also have six kids.  (Do you see a trend here?  haha … Those homeschooling families!)  Anyway, her little five year old just loved that tiger!  That made my heart happy to see because it was just sitting in a closet.  Well, the tiger’s brother was up for adoption last month, and I offered it to the same friend for her three year old daughter.  I was so glad she accepted because it freed up some mental space for me!  (Now, selling the “adoption” to my husband was a different story altogether…)  We’d had those tigers for at least seven years; it was time for them to move on!  Sometimes ya just got to let go! (pardon my vernacular)

Recently, our church asked for sheets for a local homeless shelter; and we came up with two kitchen trash bags full!  I used to shop quite a bit at thrift stores and had stocked up on a bunch.  We still have plenty, though.  I was just glad to get rid of those extras!

I’m anxious for spring so we can regain control of our garage!  It’s been so brutally cold that we zip in and out, and that’s it.  No dilly dallying!  Last year we made great headway in the garage.  We sold a foosball table and donated an extra riding lawn mower, so that freed up a lot of space.

I recently sorted through all the toiletry items stored under the bathroom sink.  How quickly things accumulate!  I didn’t think it’d been that long since I last went through everything.  Life gets busy and you blink, and it’s been six months or more.  Anyway, I set a few things aside to put in the bag for my new friend today.  (some hand sanitizer, lotion, shampoo, etc.)  I had a bunch of Paul Mitchell shampoo and conditioner (travel size) bottles from last summer, so I put those in the bag too.  I figured even if she didn’t want them, one of her daughters would think they’re neat.

Why do we hold onto so many things?  I try to be so frugal in a variety of ways, but sometimes it’s just time to let it go!  I guess I’m in a real “deep clean/purge” mood lately.  It just makes me happy to know someone else can use whatever it is that’s just sitting around taking up space in my house.  It might as well be put to good use.  Otherwise, what’s the point?

When I was younger, I think we were more in the “amassing stuff” stage.  We need stuff.  We need lots of stuff.  The more stuff we have the better.

Now, we’re in our 40’s and I’m thinking we need far less stuff than we previously thought.  Less = more.  My motto for 2014 is: Simplify.

I need less to think about.  Less to maintain.  Less, please.

I’d like to focus on what’s important: God, my family, church, etc. … and less junk.  Fewer distractions.  More happiness.

For me, less to maintain means more time I can devote to quilting!  🙂

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For you, it might be tinkering in the garage, reading, fishing or cooking.  You fill in the blank.

Next week, I plan on making yet another drop off at the Salvation Army while I’m out taking my Dad to the cardiologist.  I think of it every time I take him to the Dr… ‘I should’ve brought the donation bags’.  It’s on the same street as his Dr.  No need to make an extra trip and waste gas.  *Makes mental note to put donation bag in SUV.*

Some people suggest making a “Half way home” for items you’re not sure you should part with.  Give it six months or even a year and if you haven’t missed it, go ahead and give it away.  I thought that was interesting.  I don’t feel like I need to do that personally, but it might work for some.

Giving really does make the heart happy!

Most of us have too much “stuff”.  Why not find a good home for things that have overstayed their visit?  🙂

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