Spring cleaning is the perfect time to declutter. But if you’re like me, it just doesn’t feel right just to toss out something that’s still perfectly usable, even though it may no longer be useful to you.
You can always garage sale your stuff or try to sell it online for a buck or two. But here are some less conventional methods that, while they won’t earn you any money, will give you a great feeling of having done something good for someone you don’t even know.
Freecycle: Post your unwanted items on a local message board to see if anyone’s interested in them. I’ve seen everything from pianos to pets to frozen pizza on my local Freecycle, and I’ve also seen how incredibly grateful people are for the things you’d just throw away. Maybe a local dog shelter could use your worn blankets to line kennel crates. Maybe a kindergarten teacher would love your empty coffee cans for an art project. It can’t hurt to offer.
Tips: Be prepared when you post an item to get a flood of responses. I usually just go with the first person who responds when I’m deciding who gets my item, but you can also read through the messages to see who has the most compelling story. Also be prepared for a fair amount of no-shows; that’s one of the unfortunate downsides of dealing with a forum like Freecycle or Craigslist. Make sure to save all the responses you get so you can work your way down the list if the first person you promise an item to falls through.
In addition to Goodwill and The Salvation Army, here are two sites with a focus specifically on helping out job seekers.
The Women’s Alliance: If you have gently used women’s business clothes and accessories, you can provide a low-income woman with a great opportunity. Everyone knows that making a good impression is key when you’re interviewing, but what if you don’t have the money for interview clothes? Your old work wear can help a women enter her job search on the right footing.
Career Gear: Just like the above, but for men.
Shelter Alliance: Mail your old cell phones to Shelter Alliance using the prepaid postage labels you can print right from their site. They recycle the phones and put the proceeds (up to $30/phone) towards their fund for shelters that help victims of domestic abuse.
Cell Phones for Soldiers: Like the above, except the proceeds from recycling your phone are used to purchase prepaid calling cards and other communication tools for members of the U.S. Military.
Gift Card Donor: The cool thing about this site is that it lets you specify which charity the sale of your gift card will benefit. You can include your name with your donation or donate anonymously.
Donate Games: Donate Games repurposes used video games and gear and uses the proceeds to help children with rare diseases. They fund research, grant wishes, and provide hospitalized kids with brand new video games to help them get through their stay. Sure, you can probably make a pretty penny by selling this particular kind of stuff, but you have to admit that this is a really awesome cause.
Sports Gift: Donate your gently used sports equipment to impoverished and disadvantaged children. Sports Gift also accepts new items and provides instructions for starting your own community drive to help raise donations.
The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation: Obviously items like pianos and organs aren’t shippable, but any other gently used instrument you (or your child) no longer plays can be donated to school music programs that don’t have the funds to buy their own instruments.
What new uses have you found for your old stuff? What great avenues have you found for getting rid of things you no longer need? Share them in the comments below.
(Photo credit: Donate Key via Shutterstock)