With the start of new jobs, my husband and I decided to clean out our closets and get rid of some "older" clothes before stocking our closet racks and stuffing our dresser drawers full of new garmentry. We pulled out clothes that we didn't wear anymore, clothes that no longer fit, and clothes that we just never liked when we first bought them (what were we thinking?? purchases). I even included some pairs of shoes that are in great shape, but that I rarely wore because after any length of time in them, my feet would start to get mad at me (nothing wrong with the shoes, but I have strange-shaped feet!). So after filling a very large Kohl's shopping bag, the kind they reserve for when you purchase mega-items, I began to look into places that will take used clothing donations. Now, I occasionally go through closets and pull out clothes, maybe once a year or less, and have given them to Goodwill in the past. However, I have read stories and comments online that indicate that the reputation of workers at Goodwills are less than trustworthy when it comes to donations (i.e., keeping the nice donations for themselves in the storeroom). Whether this is true or not, I don't know, but I would like to know that our gently-used items go to people who really need them. This prompted me to look into various charitable organizations, and this is what I found out: there are few places that want to take these items and see that they get to the people who need them!
Salvation Army--Being a Christian organization, this non-profit organization has stores that sell donated clothing, housewares, and furniture. The profits from these stores go toward funding the Salvation Army Rehabilitation centers and adult job training programs. The Salvation Army holds to more conservative, Biblically-based stances on issues such as abortion and homosexuality. What I don't like, though, is that my donations are resold, and not given to those in need. I do like that they use the money for helping the community, though.
Goodwill--Also considered a non-profit organization, Goodwill operates stores that sell donated items as well. They also use their store profits to train adults, some with disabilities or addictions, for jobs in the working world. They do not seem to have a moral stance on the issues of today, but they do not claim to be affiliated with any sort of religious organization, so they would not be required to have moral standards. Again, they resell the donations, instead of distributing them to families in need, but the money goes to a respectable cause.
PlanetAid--This one seems questionable. We have several of these large yellow drop boxes around town, and I've always wondered about it. In doing some Internet research (just do a Google search for "planet aid" and you'll see what I mean), there are about as many good stories as there are bad about this supposedly non-profit organization. They do claim to donate profits from the donations received to various charities in places around the world, such as South Africa. They also claim to aid in emergency and disaster relief, research, and natural habitat protection around the world. However, several of the articles I have come across claim that the funds are sent to nonexistent charities and then used by the high-ups in the organization to purchase luxury items, such as houses. I don't know if these claims are true, but I think I will personally steer clear of this one. Do the research and make your own decision, though.
Red Cross--The American Red Cross is the famous organization founded by Clara Barton back in 1881. They are famous for blood drives, of course. They are known mainly as an emergency response organization, which is why I was so surprised to find out that they do not accept clothing donations at all. I thought if anything, they would take clothing donations for families who lose their homes and belongings to fires and natural disasters, and this was the first place I looked. They do, of course, take money, so I suppose that if you can find buyers for your items, you could donate that money if you want. However, that's pretty much a rummage sale, and if I'm going to be doing the work, then I would probably be inclined to keep the profits! I do think that they do great charitable work, but I'm a bit dismayed to find out that isn't exactly what I had thought it was.
Local missions and churches--Many of these places take clothing donations, but always call before packing your car with your giveaway goodies. Some places may not need what you have, or they may have a special location for donating these items. We tried to give away our couch several years ago. There was nothing wrong with it, it was in fine condition (no kids or pets), and still we had a hard time finding any charity, church, or mission that would accept it. They just simply had no need for it at the time. To be honest, these places would be the first I would check with when it comes to wanting to give clothes directly to those in need. Many people appeal to churches first when it comes to acquiring necessary items for living.
If you have household items that can double as items for use by pets/stray animals, such as towels, blankets, or socks that could maybe double as scratching pads or chew toys, consider making donations to your local animal shelter, animal rescue or pound.
With cold weather right around the corner, it's important to have warm clothing. While I do not like the idea of giving to people who refuse to work and instead rely on welfare and the government every month, I am compelled, as a Christian, to care for those who have less than me. That means that I am happy to give whatever I can to those who genuinely need what I have extra of in my closet or pantry.
Many people feel compelled to donate to charities, whether they are Christians or not. I have to believe that most people have not completely lost compassion for their fellow man, although it is a fading feeling amongst us. Christians, though, must not give in to the hardening of hearts that is going on all around them! It is essential to take care of those around us because of our faith. James 2:14-17 says this: "14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." You never know when you might need to be on the receiving end!