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I was totally flabbergasted when the social worker at hospice greeted me with those words and a big hug yesterday morning when I delivered the last load of donated items. I was still making excuses about some of the badly worn and used items that I sometimes deliver when she quietened me down with the words: “My dear you don’t understand, we are dealing with people that have nothing…”

This hit me and made me very emotional. I deal with people most of the time that have an abundance of everything, do retail therapy, buy the newest and best, even though they don’t want for anything, but often hang on for dear life to the stuff filling their already overfull cupboards, because they just can’t let go.

On my way home I was deeply moved and thought of each and every one of my clients. Many of whom donated their unwanted, sometimes unused stuff, grateful that it was eventually leaving their home. Then there were those from whom I had to pry the extra stuff away that hadn’t been used for ages.

Why is it so difficult to let go? It is mostly an emotional attachment, a “what if I can’t find it again” and a lot of other excuses. The most pertinent opinions and preconceived ideas being:

  1. Most welfare organisations don’t look after the stuff that I donate and I don’t trust the whole organisation because, “ I heard that lot of the good stuff is taken by the staff and that the money is ending up in the wrong pockets instead of helping people or animals as they make out to” .

You need to educate yourself about, and visit the organisations you wish to donate to. After evaluation, be comfortable to donate to that specific organisation.

I believe and am quite outspoken about it that I opine, that it is better someone benefits from an item, uses it and loves it, instead of it just sitting forgotten gathering dust on a dusty shelf or in a cupboard.

  1. The “*” organisation, said that they don’t want my rubbish.

Toss anything torn, permanently stained, badly chipped, broken, is totally incomplete or is dismantled. Please do not pass these on to a charity and make your indecision their woes! Do not necessarily discard a failed item or an item with some missing accessories. There are those who acquire an item often to repair or complete an own similar item, or often to tinker with an item expecting to resuscitate it, very often successfully.

Before donating ensure that the items are reasonably clean and usable. If you have an abundance of items to donate, pack them roughly into categories. This will enable the charities to work more efficiently when sorting stuff for sale in their charity shops, or for giving it away to homeless or destitute people.

These organisations often have paid staff to sort through all the donations. If you perceive their attitude to be in the vein of the above reservation, after having sorted your possessions with care and packed them up in boxes or bags, they don’t deserve what you are willing to gift them. Find an organisation that will appreciate your donation, believe me you will find one.

  1. Will my precious possessions find a proper home?

Rest assured whoever buys them or is gifted with them, will want them, need them and they may even find a much more loved home than living in an overstuffed drawer or shelf never to be used again or looked at, nor loved!

Imagine someone who acquired your precious possession gifting it to a deserving homeless person, how precious do you believe it will be to that person?

  1. Can I really donate this, it really doesn’t look good anymore and probably does not work

If it isn’t torn or broken, any person who cannot afford to buy an item will be happy to receive it and will be able to use it, love it or fix it!

  1. These books are so old who will still want to read them?

Have you ever acquired a book from a second hand book store, a street vendor or at a church bazar? My guess is you inevitably enjoyed the book despite the obvious signs of old age. You may even have passed it on to a friend with commendation.

There are many reading and adult literacy programs that are run by welfare organisations that will use any book they can lay their hands on.

There are many financially challenged students that may find your text books of real value in the pursuit of their dreams.

There is that somebody that is waiting for your book to appear.

  1. There is so much stationery, who will want to use these bits and pieces of crayons which are not in sets anymore? Who can use these broken blackboard chalks?

There are many schools who wait and wait for deliveries of such items from the authorities. They in desperation will acquire and use them.

There are homeless and destitute children who will love such bits and pieces, even if it is just one crayon or colour pencil in a different colour to complement a wanting set. Imagine the joy on that face, do you see it?

  1. “I really can’t deal with all these toys and just look at all the stuffed animals”

If they are in a fair state of repair, if the stuffing has not popped out of goofy’ belly button all of them can be donated to some institution or orphanage. There is always someone out there in need of a toy to race with, a doll to love, a fairy to escape to a faraway land with.

Don’t get me wrong though, giving a toy is not comparable to giving love and spending time with a child! Welfare organisations are in dire need of people wanting to hold or spend some time with a destitute or homeless child.

  1. These dresses and suits are surely too good to be donated to welfare?

If you have as yet not passed them on, how much longer do you want to hold on to them?

Nothing is too good to be donated, there are many deserving people out there. People that, after having acquired their dream qualification having used that textbook he found at the street vendors’ store, are now seeking employment and want to put their best foot forward in that interview neatly dressed in your charcoal suit! Your too good clothing may just become a life saver, may just lift a family out of abject poverty.

  1. What do we do with all of these magazines?

Donate if they are still current, often even if they are not that current. That one edition of Car magazine for example may just be the one a collector needs to complete his collection, such collections are worth a pretty buck and will be bought by collectors even at a premium, ultimately to the benefit of the selling welfare organisation with the resulting ripple effect.

Old and torn magazines should be recycled, not burnt. Hug a tree for that tree that was not cut down to be pulped for more paper.

  1. What should I do with these beautiful evening dresses?

Keep your ear to the ground, gift them to deserving parents or persons and make a girl be a princess for one night, she will remember forever.

  1. What do I do with all these old blankets?

Donate them to charities or to the SPCA or animal welfare. Anything that will cover an exposed limb at night, will bring a little hope and comfort to a homeless child.

I thank each and every one of my clients who have so gracefully donated, with open hearts, to various charities over the past years. Donations many of which I delivered to these charities and was thanked, hugged and kissed out of appreciation. If only I could reciprocate to all of you with thanks, hugs and kisses. Again from the bottom of my heart, thank you!

I can but agree with Paulo Coelho: No, I never saw an angel, but it is irrelevant whether I saw one or not. I feel their presence around me.”

Thank you for being an angel!

Heidi Meyer

Professional Organiser, trainer, speaker