Donate WIth Kindness and Consideration


As you may well know (if you read my blog posts), I "work" (which means volunteer) at a thrift shop.  Working there also includes donating items that I no longer want or need.  I also regularly donate to my local food pantry.  Based on the donations we get at the thrift shop and how full the food pantry donation bin often is when I drop off my own donation, I know that there are a lot of people in my community who feel as strongly as I do about helping and caring for the community.

So what I am about to write here might seem a bit harsh but...I've seen a lot in my years of volunteering and donating.  Of course this is only MY experience...  Disclaimer complete.

When you are making a donation PLEASE do so with thoughtful consideration.  You may wonder why I am saying this and you also may think what I am about to say is just common sense.  (And it is.)  Whenever or wherever you are making a donation, make sure that it is something that can be used.  A can of soup with an expiration date of a year ago is NOT a thoughtful donation.  A stained t-shirt is not a kind donation; it is garbage.  In both examples you are not helping; you are actually making more work for the volunteers.  Volunteers who work long and hard; they don't need any more.

When I go to the grocery store and buy a can of cream of chicken soup instead of cream of mushroom, I can donate that can to the food pantry.  There's nothing wrong with it; I just made a mistake and I don't feel it's worth the time to return it.  When I buy a bottle of cooking oil, open it and realize that instead of sesame oil I've gotten peanut oil, it is NOT okay to donate.  It's been opened and maybe even used.  Do not donate!  Instead you might offer it to a neighbor or a friend to see if they would be interested.

When I go to my closet and realize that a pair of pants no longer fits (hopefully because I've lost some weight...but more likely that's not what happened), I will donate them to the thrift shop.  (Honestly, the majority of my clothes come from the thrift shop which not only saves me money, but helps to save the environment.)  When I go in my dresser and pull out a pair of underwear with holes in them, this is NOT okay to donate.  (You think I haven't seen my share of dirty underwear that's been "donated?"  You are so wrong and I don't want to talk any more about it.  Nor should you want to hear about it!)  When making a donation, stop and think, "If I saw this, would I buy it?"  (For example:  would you buy a complete set of encyclopedias from 1998 or a black and white computer monitor?) Look at it objectively and answer honestly.  If the answer is no, in the trash it should go.

Make sure your items are wanted/needed.  Yes, we all need fresh fruits and vegetables, but they have a short shelf life and most food pantries cannot take them.  Check with your local pantry beforehand! 

My thrift shop cannot accept large furniture, as much as we might like to take it.  As beautiful as it might be, we cannot accept your Aunt Ida's antique dining room set.  We CAN accept her small kitchen table with two chairs.  When it doubt, ask...No one wants to see your Aunt Ida's antique furniture go to waste and if the thrift shop that I work in can't take it, there may be one that can or other organizations or individuals that can. 

Finally, when donating, look for guidelines as to when items are accepted.  My local food pantry has a bin outside the church so donations can be left safely at any time.  There is also a note that says the bin is emptied daily.  With that said, I don't think I'd leave cans of tuna there in the middle of the day on the hottest day of the year.  Nor would I make a donation in the morning of the day when they are distributing bags of groceries to the cars that drive up.  It would be confusing and inconsiderate, especially since the distribution time is only a few hours in the morning on the fourth Saturday of the month.  There are plenty of other times to make my drop off.  (I usually swing by after I have gone grocery shopping or early in the morning after I have dropped my son off at school for his class that takes place BEFORE the school day begins.)

On the other hand, my thrift shop does NOT have a place outside the building to leave donations.  They clearly state that they are only able to accept donations during certain hours (currently 10-1 Tuesdays, 11-1 Thursdays and 10-2 on Saturdays).  There are several signs outside the door that say that items should NOT be left outside in the elements.  I've seen items left right under the sign!  What good is a bag of clothes that have been left outside in inclement weather over a day?  While it might not be convenient for you to drop of your items during open hours, just leaving them there makes a mess and means your donation will end up in the garbage.  (Who wants that?)

Make your donation count.  Make your donation matter.  This volunteer says:  thank you for donating with kindness and consideration. 


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