Sunday, 10 February 2013

Charity Starts At Home

One person's rubbish is another person's treasure is the phrase that sprung to mind this week. After a big spring clean and finally finishing unpacking I was left with a large pile of stuff that we didn't want or need anymore but that had moved with us from Preston. There were similar piles of recycling and rubbish but this was a pile of stuff that was perfectly good condition, we just didn't have any use for it anymore. But someone would, and so it all got taken to a charity shop.

Which charity shop I donate to is normally determined by which is closest to a car park and which is open at a convenient day for me to drop stuff off. So with this in mind I ended up outside a local animal shelter shop opposite a car park which only required me to cross one road to get to it. More often than not the charity shops I donate stuff to (and buy stuff in) are not the charities I would normally donate money to which I find quite interesting. I will donate my old stuff to anywhere it might be reused, and I'll shop in any charity shop that has stuff I need or want. I like this, because while my money tends to gravitate towards nature charities I still end up supporting others too which are just as worthy.

As I entered the shop I had a surprise though. Normally when I donate bags of stuff the shop assistant will motion to the back of the shop for me to drop it off and say a quick thanks then go back to what she (it always seems to be a she) is doing. But this week the assistant was hugely grateful with lots of "thank you so much!" and "It's great that you've donated to us!" for both boxes of things I brought in. It was lovely! There's nothing like being praised and I felt great walking out of the shop. They really made me feel like I was doing something good, and actually making a difference. It's not often I get that feeling when dropping my old stuff off somewhere and whether it's their policy, an enthusiastic volunteer or they're just desperate for donations it's made them my favourite charity shop in Exeter and I'll be donating there again as soon as we've accumulated enough stuff for another trip.

One charity reuse activity that has irritated me this week though is the plastic bags asking for clothing donations that come almost weekly through our letter box. Since my charity shop trip we have discovered a hidden stash of unwanted clothes but they need sorting before we take them to the shop. When a charity bag came through the door I was pleased, because I could give the clothes to charity (again one I wouldn't normally think of supporting) without even having to leave the house. But when I looked at the bag as I got home at about 6pm I found that it had to be put out early the next day. I didn't really have time to sort the clothes out before the bag had to be put out for collection. I guess collecting the day after putting the bags out means people are less likely to forget to do it, but it meant I couldn't give to a charity that I would have been happy to support. The clothes will have to wait for another bag to arrive, which I expect wont take long.

With the boxes of old things at the charity shop there was room in the house for a few (sort of) new things too. A friend who is moving house was looking to home some old furniture and so we gained a DVD rack and some chairs for free. The friend gained some space and we got some great new furniture so it's win win for everyone. So whether you're clearing out your old stuff, or rehousing something new to you when it comes to reusing, recycling or up-cycling charity definitely starts at home!

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