Updated: Feb 10
Donations, eventually we all have them and we all most definitely (especially if you're a woman, let alone a mother) go through phases like "Spring cleaning mode" and we do it in every season. It can truly be a beautiful blessing to not only to recycle one's good's but to donate them to where it would be best needed and most gladly, best cherished. I know when my daughter outgrew her clothes it brought me so much joy to pass on her items down to my nieces and seeing them in those cute outfits that my daughter once danced in, slept in, made a mess in; made it all more special to see them making new memories in. And while I loved collecting hand-me-downs for my nieces, I made sure that each piece I gave to them was still of value- no stains, the right sizes, no holes and they weren't too faded because I wanted to bless them not burden them with things that would just go in the trash!
After working at a maternity home for over 8 years you would be shocked at the kind of donations we received, and while we are grateful for them all! The thought, the effort, and the time they took to package them and drop them off, we have had to come up with standards to keep the quality of our home in order.
The good side of donations
There are so many benefits of receiving donated items, especially in a place like a maternity home! Whether it's furniture, clothing, food, household items, it can be an answer to prayers in so many ways. You wouldn't believe it but our Maternity home is furnished with about 90% furniture that was donated! It has lasted us through the years and we are so grateful. Mother's receive clothing for themselves and their children, toys fill our nursery, food fills our shelves, decorations make our home more beautiful. We are truly appreciative of each donated item we receive that has been of use here.
The bad side..
While donations can be a blessing they can also be a burden. Have you ever heard the phrase "one man's trash is another man's treasure"? Well.. Unfortunately, one man's trash should sometimes STAY in the trash.. And while I know for some people, throwing things away can be very hard! I know what it means to invest into something and to just have to throw it away hurts! But when you donate items, especially clothing, you are donating them to the less fortunate, ask yourself before you donate, is it truly kind to give away clothing with holes, stains or just no good to the these folks who are already facing hardship? If you wouldn't wear it then you should definitely consider either throwing it away or recycling them! There are many companies who recycle out clothing and use them to turn into rags. We have easily received over one hundred thousand pounds of donations over the last 39 years and I would say at least 60% of it is mostly junk.. I hate to tell someone "we can't accept your donations" but we are truly trying to accept good-quality items that will last long.. We have seen items like used, stained, underwear, moldy clothing, couches with bed bugs, dressers with multiple broken drawers, broken refrigerators, broken vacuums, the list goes on and on.. And who is left at the end of the day to deal with all the mess and junk? The shelter and the workers and most of the time, who are at a lot of times, understaffed and over worked and know for us, we do not have the space to hold too much. So please, next time you're considering donating to a shelter, ask yourself, is this trash or is this good enough to pass on. Our standards have been set to if it's older than 10 years, we no longer accept it.
Get to know your shelter before you donate
Many shelters in your local area have thrift stores, those are some of the best to donate towards because they are truly being recycled out into the community and going to a good cause, they usually accept clothing, furniture and household items. Always call or check online to see what they do and don't accept.
Try to find out the shelters best needs, for instance, If you are donating to a men's home, obviously just stick to men's items, if it's a women's home, only women's items, women and children's home, then women's and children's clothing plus toys and so forth.
Learn the difference between a rescue mission and a maternity home/ program. Shelters usually take in folks by the hundreds every single day and can use a large quantity of food, clothing and many other necessities like dog food, blankets, tents, canned goods and so forth. Maternity homes and programs alike usually house only a few residents at a time, so when you donate 50 bags of clothing at once to a program, it's an over abundance to them but when it's given towards shelters like rescue missions, it can be a blessing.
If you are looking to donate furniture, again, ask yourself, is this in good enough condition to recycle to another person's home? Or should I get this dumped. Household items, if it's a family heirloom, it's probably of no use to a shelter, antiques can be nice but it would probably be best served at an antique mall.
The biggest help you can be when you donate is to contact the shelter you plan to give to is to communicate! Find out their website, see if they have what items they accept and don't accept, see what their needs are and call to let them know when you're coming! I know for our home, we prefer it when someone e-mails us pictures of the furniture before-hand to see if we have the space and the need for it. Most of these shelters and programs are non-profit organizations and provide you with a tax-deducible receipt and giving us a heads up upon your arrival makes it so much easier to prepare that for you.
The best gifts you can give any home or shelter are new gifts, if you have anything that still has a price tag or is unwrapped, this makes great gifts for residents and children.
Whether you're a Christian and you stand by the principle of "give and it shall be given unto you" or you believe in the act of Karma, it truly is a blessing to give and it has truly been a blessing to see the beneficiary's of these treasure's you give to others, so thank you for having the heart to give and the time to know how best to do so!