There is a quote that goes “If you continually give, you will continually have.” It sounds profound in the spiritual sense. Yet, we tend to view these words through the lens of the work we do as organizers. We have worked with many clients who have diligently culled their wardrobes, eviscerated their kitchen cabinetry and dared to penetrate the netherworld behind the washing machine in the basement, on a mission to track down and eradicate household clutter. These efforts deserve plaudits indeed. Yet there is a critical step, if missed, which renders these activities null and void. Even though their donations get packed for departure, often they never make it out the door. These clients continually give, but they continually have.
We have been vexed for years by this phenomenon. With so many outlets and organizations more than willing to take what you no longer want off your hands, it is a wonder how many bags of clothing and boxes of office supplies never see the other side of the garage door. You would think the decision making process of what to keep versus what to relinquish would be the hard part. But for many, making the final exit with the discards is even more formidable. This is the reason we include “donations in limbo” to our C.R.U.D. hit list.
If you have the un-donated still hanging around your house, there are a few locations where they are likely to be detected:
1. Your Vehicle. If you open your trunk or look in the backseat, do not be surprised if you find cartons of books you meant to drop off for the library’s annual book sale fundraiser, magazines that were supposed to go to the pre-school for fodder for art projects, and several bags of clothes that refuse to show you off at your best. These and other donations can ride around for months totally undetected. I recently rented a car that had a bag of clothing donations in the back.
2. Your Closet. We always recommend placing a donations receptacle in your clothes closet for those moments when reality strikes and you realize your infatuation with a particular garment is over. The plan is to remove the bag when it gets filled to take to consignment or a clothing drop. But, here is where the plan backfires. The donation bag situates itself in the rear of the closet and over time gets covered up with shoes, bags, other clothes that have slipped off hangers and shopping bags. Therefore, it never leaves.
3. Your Entranceway. Some people only have one way in or out of where they live. Others have access through garages, mudrooms and side doors. The idea is to put the donations in a location where you can grab them on the way out to your bridge game, soccer match or taking the kids to school. The intention is noble, but often the follow-through goes awry. The boxes and bags sit, poised for transport to the new recipients, the victims of neglect. Even worse, some get dragged back into the house for re-evaluation.
The solution to this problem is very simple. Pick up the phone and arrange for a pick-up from a local charity. Your only responsibility is to put the donations outside with the appropriate labels.
You don’t even have to witness their leave-taking. If you are stockpiling donations to give to friends and family, call to give them a near-term deadline for pick-up and inform them that you will donate them to charity if your deadline cannot be met. Make liberal use of the Internet, particularly the on-line classifieds that feature sections for donations as well as for sale. Put the onus on the person who is the recipient to take something away and save your time and money for the gas. Stop the cycle now. Make sure your donations got to a good home, just not your home.