As well as selling some of our random goods, we’ve also found plenty of places lately to give our things away. Once we were a one stop donation family – the local St Vinnies. No longer! Since really analysing what we have to give away we’ve realised a few things. I’m going to break out the dot points here.
- Op shops only want things they can sell. They don’t particularly like books. They definitely don’t want things in poor condition. They do not want your electrical goods.
- Savers will take your electrical goods. They’ll take your clothes, too, but Savers is not an op shop. They donate a dollar for each item they receive. This isn’t a bad outcome, but it’s not the same as the whole profits going towards a charity. (And lets not even start on how much money raised actually goes to a charity anyway!)
- There are many, many, many specialised charities looking for particular goods at a particular time.
- Freecyclers tend to be really picky about what they want and what they don’t want. It’s hard to know if people are being picky because they want to get something for free to on-sell, or if they really can’t afford that one thing they really need, and they really need a particular type of that thing. It sometimes feels like it’s less about giving away and more about getting.
So here’s a mini run down on things we’ve given away.
Rags to the Country Fire Authority: the local CFA has a small wheelie bin out the back for rags. They ask for cotton-only clothing with no zips or buttons. I was able to donate some of the badly stained children’s clothes I mentioned here.
Books to a retirement village: Melaleuca Lodge Retirement Village on Phillip Island has an attached second hand bookshop. The bookshop raises money for the village. We donated a huge box load of books here. We have also recently discovered that our local YMCA where Little Fearse goes swimming has a book corner you can give your books to, or purchase books from for a small amount. I’m not sure who the money goes to.
Toiletries to a woman going to an orphanage in Fiji: Through a FB group I have ‘liked’ I discovered a woman was looking out for toiletries to take with her on a trip to a Fijian orphanage. She was after soaps and shampoos for the children and wanted to take some special items for the women working at the orphanage as gifts. I receive a lot of toiletries as gifts from students at the end of the year and often don’t use them. I donated a variety of hand creams, perfumes and soaps to be taken to Fiji.
Children’s clothes on Freecycle: When I last received the clothes on Freecycle there were many I didn’t need. I took out the ones destined for ragdom (above) and redonated the rest to a Freecycler, with some added unwanted items of ours. It’s good to see them being passed on and on. The woman I received them from originally got them on Freecycle, too!
Household goods to St Vinnie’s: I know that kitchen items sell well at St Vinnie’s, so I didn’t hesitate to donate these to them. I also donated toys and other random children’s goods.
Our clothes to Red Cross: Our local Red Cross op shop is very small and only receives clothes, so we donated ours here.
I’m going to make just one final point on donations. During the severe 2009 bush fires in Victoria BP and I volunteered to help sort the clothing and goods donated to families who had lost their homes. There were two huge HUGE warehouses full of clothing and household goods donated. Some of this stuff was really useful and would have really helped families resettle. A lot of the stuff was really awful. Stained. Full of spiders. Torn. Worn. Broken. Covered in animal hair. Stiff with food or bodily fluids. Seriously. If it is in such bad condition you wouldn’t wear it – don’t donate it. Find a different way to recycle it. (For instance, if it’s pure cotton put it in the compost – the worms will love it!) It’s an insult to those people who have lost their EVERYTHING to think that they will enjoy wearing your stained, see-through, torn, hairy old clothes.
We’d love to hear about other places you have found that liked to receive particular items.
If you’re looking to pass on any of your baby goods and you live in Melbourne, I’d highly recommend you check out whether it is something St Kilda Mums needs. They do a great job re-homing baby goods for Mums in need.