As you may know, we bought a house this year! In attempting to pack all of our stuff, I found a ton of hotel-sized soaps and shampoos that I had brought back with me from travel. Most of the time I use these little bottles, but sometimes, they get tucked away in the bathroom drawer… never to be seen again until now.
Admit it, you’ve got tons of tiny bottles of shampoos or soaps or lotions lying around your home for those “just in case” events. But guess what? Those “just in case” events never happen because you have a normal-sized bottle of shampoo in your bathroom. (Yes, you should probably tuck a couple in your earthquake preparedness kit, but other than that? It’s just wasted space in your bathroom drawers.)
Donations – Items In Need
It seems that people donate their stuff during the Christmas season in December, but there is an urgent need for product donations (especially personal hygiene products) every day at homeless shelters, women and children’s shelters, emergency shelters and disaster relief efforts.
So take a look at your pantry, bathroom, closet and car – and see what you find when you dig out your “storage” bin! Do good twice – 1. you’re cleaning your home and 2. someone in need is benefiting from your “spring cleaning.”
Toiletry items – Be honest. You don’t need 50 mini bottles of shampoo. You only have one head of hair. Save a few, donate the rest! I know some of you have Costco cards and buy toothpaste in bulk. Do you really need that hotel-sized toothpaste tube? Doubtful. It’s probably not even your brand. Cheap hotel razors? You know you grab one only because it’s there. The only time you’ll need them is when you are building a weapon to fend off a serial killer in the woods. The Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans near Chicago looking for lots of items. So does Su Casa in Long Beach, CA.
Maxi pads and tampons – I had a lot of maxi pads and tampons left over post-partum and before we moved to our new home. I gave them all away. Did you know that many women and girls in shelters are in serious need of feminine hygiene products? Check out DistributingDignity.org. Did you know when there is a natural disaster, this is one of the most requested items? It’s not fun to be bleeding out of your vagina in public.
Speaking of private parts, I also have a ziploc bag of trial-size “mom” products that will be going to my local shelter. Nipple cream, diaper cream, nursing pads, and so on. These are all useful for a new mom and baby.
Yoga mats – If you’ve upgraded your yoga mat and have an older mat hanging around, why not donate it? Animal shelters use them to cushion cold metal grated cages for small animals. It gives a bit of cushion as bedding. Check in with homeless shelters who may reuse them as well to ground a cot or someone may use it as cushion under their sleeping bag. Check with your local YMCA – they may be able to take your yoga mats (and other exercise equipment.) Did you know there is a yoga program for emergency first responders? And a program for at-risk youth? Contact them directly and see how you can help. Maybe you can run a mat drive.
Pots and pans and utensils – You’ve gotten married and received a ton of new cookware, or you’re moving (like us). You have extra pots and pans that you don’t ever use. Check in with a friend in need, donate to a charity or thriftshop. Habitat for Humanity runs thrift shops called Restore all over the country. Proceeds go to rebuilding and building affordable homes. Here’s one in Orange County.
Blankets and towels – I think this one’s obvious. In some parts of the country, it’s getting cold already. (In SoCal, we are still dying from the heat.) In any case, blankets are always useful! Clear out your linen closet.
Reusable water bottles – Dudes. I have so many reusable bottles and mugs I’ve given away. I get them from fitness or baby events, brands, or they’re a gift with purchase. There are a few that I use all the time. Otherwise, the rest get moved to the donation pile after I’ve kept them in rotation for about a year or so. You probably have a bunch from events as well – logo’d or not, they’ll take on a second life with someone else.
Books – Not only can you donate your used books to your local library for their book sales, you can send them off to schools or shelters. (Just because a person is homeless doesn’t mean they’re illiterate.) If you’re into crafts, you could create your own free library! In some coffee houses, I’ve noticed they also take donations – they set up community bookshelves, and you are free to pick up books and vice versa. ALA has a list of places to donate across the country, including Books on Bases, a program that delivers books to children at military bases.
Obviously this is just a short list of the items you can donate. The great thing is that you don’t have to wait until Christmas or the spring to give away stuff that you’re not using anymore. You can do it NOW.
What other items have you donated? Do you have a local shelter or favorite cause you donate to? Tell me in the comments!