By Joan Weed, contributor
Inevitably, as the holiday decorations are making their way to the attic, my mind goes to continuing with the decluttering and cleaning of cupboards and drawers. Actually, I’ve been working on this for a few years now. If one thinks of all that one must do to downsize and simplify, it seems awesome and like too much work. However, in an effort to save my kids from having to dispose of certain items, I keep it in my mindset all year long. I’ve been aware of opportunities and keep an eye out for other ways to dispose of possessions I no longer need.
“Front Porch Forum” is a great resource for connecting with people, as well as classified ads in local papers. A new-to-me resource is “Buy Nothing,” which I see on Facebook—a great way to share nicely-cared-for clothes, household/garden tools and furnishings with others. No money is involved, and the taker usually picks up the items. Photos are necessary. When the Grange had rummage sales, I shared many items. The Charlotte Library’s yearly book sales took a lot of our books and even puzzles.
I believe my first giveaway was to the mother of a young girl who wanted a toboggan for her eighth birthday. Didn’t we have one hanging in the garage collecting dust? Arrangements were made and her grandpa restored it, including a new pad. Another friend sought a sewing machine to teach her daughters to sew over the summer. Though I used mine occasionally, I realistically knew that she needed it more than I did at this age. A woman pleaded for a globe on a stand. Again, that would have been one of my difficult homes to find for an item too nice to toss. She collected it and a small 1940s tin globe pencil sharpener. She used the globe for her daughter’s wedding. I kidded that my little globe was a cake topper.
I have kept notes on my pass-alongs and love the many stories and new friends I have met in the process.
Other items that found a home with neighbors: binoculars for a new birding enthusiast, a leaf blower (electric!) for a dad who helped neighbors, a computer and printer for a 12-year-old for his very own, a forehead thermometer to a school admin for her work, horseshoes to the Charlotte Rec Department and silk ties to a quiltmaker.
Stony Loam Farm has our aluminum garden cart, a friend’s kids have my old camera, and a CD player went to other kids.
One delightful story involved a 20-something young man who asked for wood tools. He came to look at our collection with a friend. They left happily with a table vice and rock maul. One of the guys took a very old wooden toolbox, which he lovingly cleaned up and restored. He kindly wrote to say he had spent a whole Sunday working on it.
We had leftover medical supplies from a procedure and many pairs of old eyeglasses. I read of an eyeglass collection for a group heading to Honduras. I offered the glasses and suggested the medical supplies, which were new and unopened. Yes! They went along with the group.
Another fun contribution was to a newly established preschool. The founders wanted wooden toys. We had quite a few. One item was a homemade seesaw from the 1930s. It was in excellent condition but difficult to store, and my own family was older now. I was sent a photo of children playing on it and knew it had found a good home. They also got wooden blocks and puzzles.
Even my old fur coat found a new home, thanks to a classified ad. Recently, a young student needed period props for the play she was putting on. A 1980s desk telephone? Wouldn’t you know we fulfilled her wish.
One year, very close to Christmas, a notice appeared in “Front Porch Forum.” Anyone have any Flexible Flyer sleds hanging around? We had three! So, I offered one and the young man came and measured it and pronounced it perfect. Hmmm… It made me ask, “What will you be doing with this?” He said, “Making my dad a Zamboni for Christmas.” I could only imagine.
There are many more items and stories. The process has been rewarding and fun, and my kids are grateful.
The most recent pass-along was to a young mother whose worldly possessions were packed up, as they were building a new home. She had no idea where the Elf on a Shelf was at present. Did anyone have a brown-haired one? You guessed it. Happy New Year!
For moving large objects that may or may not be functional, try 1-800-GOT-JUNK or Grunts Move Junk, which aids veterans with the profits. Locally and more personally, Ellen Gurwitz (802-598-3639) will help you break through your clutter and organize your spaces. She is non-judgmental and practical.