A big part of getting married and starting a new life together is moving into a new home. Two people, who often have two complete sets of living essentials, coming together in their new abode will likely experience an overflow of stuff. Add to this the fact that most of your wedding gifts will be nicer versions of this stuff, and you can quickly start to feel overwhelmed with having too many things and nowhere to put them.
|We managed to make room in our new place for our grill, but some of the other big items had to find new homes.|
To give away our large items, like furniture or appliances, we worked with two different organizations in the Washington, DC area that benefit different groups in need. Both groups’ policies of having volunteers and vehicles available to collect large items from your house makes donating these hard-to-handle items as easy as scheduling a pickup time. Pathways to Housing employs a unique model based on the simple idea that “Housing First ends homelessness.” Pathways to Housing was founded by Dr. Sam Tsemberis in 1992, and is widely credited as being the originator of the Housing First model of addressing homelessness among people with psychiatric disabilities.
The Housing First model is to provide housing first, and then combine that housing with supportive treatment services in the areas of mental and physical health, substance abuse, education, and employment. Housing is provided in apartments scattered throughout a community. This "scattered site" model fosters a sense of home and self-determination, and it helps speed the reintegration of Pathways’ clients into the community.
Another organization that picks up furniture in order to provide it to those in need is Disabled American Veterans. They operate under a similar mission statement, “…to support disabled veterans in need, [by focusing] primarily on supporting proven, successful, long-term rehabilitation programs for homeless veterans in our local communities.” Combine these services with the fact that many cities require you to schedule bulk trash pickup ahead of time anyway, and in some cases charge you a fee, and finding a local organization like these makes the minor effort more than worthwhile. If these two groups aren’t available in your area, head over to http://www.donationtown.org/ to make finding a similar option a breeze.
For smaller items, like kitchenware, bedding and clothes, there are well-established and well-known organizations like Goodwill Industries International and the Salvation Army that we used frequently to lighten our load prior to the big move. Besides providing those in need with quality goods at affordable prices, last year Goodwill alone helped over 170,000 people find jobs, and served over 2.4 million with employment and training programs. Remember, though, that all the items you donate should be lightly-used, clean, and in working condition. One of my personal favorite ideas was suggested to me by my sister years ago, and I have made use of it and told others many times since; for items like toys, electronics or video games, your local Women’s Shelter is sure to have children whose days will be made brighter by these donations.
Julie also donated older items from her business wardrobe to an organization called Dress For Success, which takes lightly worn suits, blazers, and other essential pieces and distributes it to women in need of work clothes. These donated dress clothes are also given to women going through the interview process so that they can make a good first impression on potential employers and feel confident about their appearance. Since 1997, Dress for Success has served more than 550,000 women in the United States, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, the Netherlands, Mexico, Poland and the West Indies.
Dress for Success serves clients by referral only, and women must have an interview scheduled before receiving clothing. Women come to Dress for Success for wardrobe assistance from a diverse group of non-profit and government agencies including homeless shelters, immigration services, job training programs, educational institutions and domestic violence shelters, among many other organizations.
Realizing that often the women coming to them needed additional help finding and keeping jobs, Dress for Success established the Professional Women's Group (PWG) program, which offers women ongoing support as they successfully transition into the workforce, to build thriving careers and prosper in the mainstream workplace. Dress for Success also has developed Career Center, that provides women with career guidance and the chance to acquire technology skills and assistance in their job searches. To learn more about Dress for Success' many successful programs, visit their website where you will also be able to find a Dress for Success clothing drop-off location near you.
Books for America is “a Bookstore with a Purpose.” Their mission is “to build and improve libraries in Washington, DC area schools, shelters, prisons and more; we support reading programs; and we provide children in the Nation's Capital with their first take-home books!” In 2010, they gave more than $600,000 worth of books and materials to DC schools, shelters and educational programs. If you don’t have a local facilitator like Books for America to find good homes for your unwanted books and magazines, keep in mind your local library, school, or senior center and inquire to find out what items they need.
By donating what you can before you move, you not only make it easier on yourself by arranging for large items to be picked up ahead of time and reducing small item clutter with periodic donations, but you provide a valuable service by giving to those who desire the same kind of warm and welcoming home you’re preparing for yourself.