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
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.