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Assisting at a charity, sorting through a huge amount of donations, I realised once again that: “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure “(anonymous), but certainly one needs to define trash in this instance.

I would refer to it as “clutter”, anything that you no longer love, need or want; but for which someone else will have a use, might need it or even love it.

Whilst organising your belongings you will find a lot of items that you either haven’t worn, used, haven’t seen for years or thought lost. You need to be decisive and know what you want to achieve.

Sort the stuff into categories of what you can sell, what you want to keep or what can be given away.

Toss anything torn, stained, chipped, broken, is incomplete or is in disrepair. Please do not pass these on to a charity and make your indecision their woes! They normally have paid staff that sort through all the donations.

Problem areas

  • Unwanted gifts – to prevent being gifted unwanted items, let friends know what you can use and what you would like. Thank them for the gift and if you can’t use it, it is yours to do with it as you wish; it was given to you out of love with no strings attached. Charity shops will love to have them!
  • Puzzles – with missing pieces – toss them, as there is nothing worse than building a puzzle only to find an incomplete picture.
  • Bags filled with all kinds of nick nacks, toys mixed with crayons, uneaten food, sweet wrappers, lego pieces, scrunched up papers, lonely socks and shoes without their partners and other stuff from the Land of Oz… – rather categorise the stuff and pack them separately in a bag and then into a box labelled Toys.
  • Rather toss sample creams, make- up and nail polish than giving them away.
  • Bits and pieces of scrap book materials and fabric – categorise and put them all in a container and label them as such, therapy centres will be able to use them.

Before donating ensure that the items are clean, usable and packed according to categories. This will enable the charities to work more efficiently when sorting stuff for their charity shops and for giving it away to homeless or destitute people.

Which organisations to donate to:

Finding an organisation that is close to your heart to gift to will make it easier to let go.

Hospices, Orphanages, Women’s shelters, Shelters for unwed mothers, Centres for the homeless, Retirement centres, Nursing homes, Art therapy centres, Schools and the Salvation Army. There are many organisations, close to you, that can either use or resell your unwanted belongings. Contact them or check out their websites to see what they need or want.

Some specific ideas for re-use:

  • You can gift craft materials to day care centres or hospices that use them in therapy.
  • Clothing, suitcases and bags to Social Welfare to pack clothing for children that are taken into foster care or for battered women who don’t have time to pack a bag before leaving home.
  • Blankets  to the SPCA
  • Use stained or torn clothing for rags.

So what’s in it for me?

By getting organised and donating your unwanted possessions;

  • You increase the lifecycle of an item, instead of it sitting in a cupboard gathering dust.
  • You will find it easier to let go, because it touches the basis of humanity to assist someone in need.
  • It will contribute to your wellbeing, free your spirit and open up your space!
  • Someone else will benefit from your gift or it will be used to fund hospices which changes lives.

Maintain the balance

Keep a donation basket or bag into which items can be placed as soon as they become unwanted, to maintain a neat and tidy home. Follow the one-in, one-out principle to prevent overcrowding of possessions. Rotate the children’s toys, don’t have all their toys out at the same time – if they outgrow them or they get a duplicate; give them away.

Make a difference

In closing Theodore Roosevelt once said: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

Heidi Meyer

Professional Organiser