Like many people, I too had a couple of boxes and bags of donations to remove from my house after the holidays. My husband offered to do the drop off on Monday, January 2. Unfortunately when he arrived, the Organization was closed in observance of the New Year’s Day holiday. He was able to put the clothing in an outdoor container. He decided not to leave the boxes of household items outside in the rain amidst other items left in front of the outdoor container. I agreed with my husband’s decision. I was curious about his thinking so I asked “Why didn’t you leave them with the other items?” He replied, “Because they would have been ruined by the rain and it would have made work for someone else to put them in the trash.” Agreed.

I returned to the Organization on my way home from a client on January 3rd. It was another very foggy and rainy day. As I turned into the organization my eyes locked on the huge mess of boxes, bags, and open items strewn all over the parking lot. It was alarming that so many items had been left out in the rain. I turned the corner and began my ritual of parking at the side door, popping my trunk in preparation to ring the bell and to begin unloading my items to be taken inside. I stopped. I thought this doesn’t feel right. Although my items are not going to be left in the rain I felt like it wasn’t the place for my items this time. I felt like the staff members had enough to deal with in cleaning up the mess created by other people who left their donations outside. (I could not even bear to take photos.)

As a Professional Organizer I help people sort through their belongings and donate items to places that feel good to them. We make sure things are donation worthy (not broken, stinky- see more below). The problem I had on January 3rd was that I knew that those items had been outside in the rain since at least January 2nd and most likely the items would no longer be useable. Maybe the donors didn’t know it was going to rain. If it was raining when they dropped off the items, did they think it would be useable by anyone after these conditions? I get it, the items are in my car, I want them out and I don’t want to fuss with it anymore. If I don’t do it now, when will I return, if ever?

Here are some things to keep in mind when donating:

• Double check to make sure the organization will be open when you plan to visit
• Try to put like things together
• Use clear bags so that the sorters can easily see the donations. Ex: put clothing in one bag, linens in one bag
• Pad breakable items and write “FRAGILE” on the box
• Label the boxes as best as you can. Ex: household, dishes, glasses, nik-naks, office supplies
• You can donate stained and ripped clothing to some organizations. It is recycled and made into rugs and ragsimg_1664

A gentle reminder, donate items that you would feel comfortable giving to someone directly as a gift, to borrow or to use.