Quit putting your crap on the curb when you could donate it

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If you were lucky enough to volunteer at Crisis Assistance Ministry more than a decade ago, you would have seen the warehouse manager racing through the hallways on roller skates. Larry Long helped me realize that donating was not just a way to unload my unwanted stuff, but a way to make a difference in the community.

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Recently, I stopped by two donation centers before finding a third that could take my stuff. I left feeling good about where my items were going, and it got me thinking about what goes into the decision to donate. Here’s what I came up with:

What do I know about the organization?
If you don’t have experience with an organization, check out its website. Questions like these could make or break a donating relationship – What is its mission? How much of the revenue is put back into community programs?

How easy is it for me to donate?
Some organizations offer pick-up service from your home. If you are willing to drive the distance, check out hours of operation and locations.

How does my donation benefit the community?
Depending on where you make your drop, the sale of your goods has the potential to fund local programs for children, American veterans, the homeless and other groups in need. Organizations, like Planet Aid, sustain projects around the world.

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Those who shop at the thrift stores benefit from lower cost items. Kimmy DeSimone, a Charlotte mom, almost exclusively shops at thrift stores for herself and two boys.

DeSimone is quick to praise the experience: “Shopping at thrift stores allows me to clothe my ever growing boys.”

How are donated items distributed?
Typically, donations are sold at a thrift store, given away free or sold overseas.

What items are needed most?
Men’s, women’s and children’s clothing in all sizes make great donations. Essential household items like small appliances, dishes and pots are in high demand.  Electronics are taken at many locations.

Several organizations have a way to repair or upcycle used goods. Clothing with holes or stains, furniture, mattresses, beds, car seats, tube televisions and even broken computers may be accepted. Call or contact NC 211 if you have an unusual item to find the best place to donate.

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A sampling of options to get you started:

– Assistance League of Charlotte: Supports Operation School Bell, Operation Check Hunger, Mecklenburg County Teen Court

– Crisis Assistance Ministry: Supports Free StoreFurniture Bank, Financial Assistance with Utilities. Accepts furniture, appliances and mattresses at their Furniture Center.

– Goodwill Industries: 27 drop-off sites in Mecklenburg County. Supports Career Development Services, Employment Skills Training, Occupational Skills Training. Accepts used and broken electronics.

– Junior League of Charlotte: Supports Go Kids Go!, Healthy Family Initiative, Kids in the Kitchen

– Salvation Army: Supports Combating Human Trafficking, Prison Ministries, Veteran Affairs Services. Accepts mattresses and car seats.

Habitat for Humanity Restore: Supports Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte, whose mission is to improve the standard of housing in our community.

Photos by Vanessa Infanzon,  Davie Hinshaw/Charlotte Observer, T. Ortega Gaines/Charlotte Observer


Vanessa Max Patch

When Vanessa Infanzon is not perusing the local thrift stores, she is writing at eSpecially Ben and Special Attention. She donates so regularly that her family keeps moving in fear that stagnation may lead them to the donation pile. Vanessa tweets as @morethanVMI.

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