Help A Friend And Give Locally

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For the past few weeks, my family has been preparing for a big move. We are not moving down the street or to the next town, but instead across the country.

During our lives here in our current home, we fortunately did not accumulate a lot of “stuff,” but much of what we have will not be traveling with us. We have decided that the memories created with some of our personal belongings are not worth the expense and time of packing them up and hauling them across country. Don’t get me wrong, we are a sentimental family, but my days of holding onto my lost baby teeth (I kept them way into my college years), have been replaced with a more common sense mentality of only keeping what I am going to use eventually, preferably sometime this year.

It is amazing what we have held onto over the years. We have been sorting through out-of-style clothing, literally hundreds of floppy disks, broken toys and games with missing pieces, and the shredding of personal documents and receipts has been enormous. I ate at Subway about 25 times last year in less than two months. In the brief moments I have to rest as our three week packing deadline looms not so quietly above, I wonder how it ever came to this: that we have accumulated so many things that we forgot we had.

We have such great excitement for our move to “new country,” and want to get a fresh start living a little more frugal, a lot more green, and eventually becoming cash-only consumers. Since we have a smaller, but comfortable house we are moving to, that means we have a few items we will no longer need, but surely could be used by another family.

We have been members of our local chapter of The Freecycle Network™ for almost two years. Recently, a post came through announcing the “Friendship and Sharing Challenge” to be held on Valentine’s Day this year. They are asking all members to post as many offers as possible from 12:01am until 11:59pm on that day. Apparently, this is a network-wide challenge, which means many other Freecycle chapters are participating. If you haven’t yet joined The Freecycle Network™, then I have to tell you that you are truly missing out.

Well, this got me thinking. I will probably post a few items there, but I want to make an impact a little closer to home, more “local.” A lot of times when people think about giving, they go global and forget about the domestic, or local, people. There are more people, especially now, who can use more affordable or FREE items that may be of no use to you, but would be gladly received by them. After three children, who are still growing, I have enough clothing to open my own gently used clothing store, plenty of video tapes, CDs, and other electronic items to start a decent entertainment area, and lots of other little things that were used a few times and probably will never be used again.

My giving local recipients are other moms in my homeschool group as well as moms at my church who are either expecting or already raising children. The gratitude is tremendous and I really know that these are moms who will be able to use the “fruits of my excess.” My husband has a weight bench set that has been used periodically, but not enough that we will take it with us. There is another father in our church who works out with weights more frequently and we knew he would get more use out of the set. My husband gave it to him, which was his way of giving locally and also a great way to say thank you to another father for all he and his family has done for our family over the years.

These items we are offering are not new, but you may be surprised that most people are not always looking for new. My five-year-old daughter has been wearing hand-me-downs (given to us by another mom) for the past four years, along with some new clothes bought by my parents. It is hard to say no to pretty new dresses from my mother, otherwise known as “Gram.” Those hand-me-downs probably saved me a couple of hundred dollars, plus we reused the clothes, and I will be passing on any surviving pieces to the next mom.

Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask a friend if she can use any of your giveaways. She may surprise you and say yes, or know of another person or family who can use what you are offering. There is often no need to look far to help someone in “need.”

I must say that I have such a great comfort knowing personal items we once used will be used and cared for by a family we know. See, there really is a little bit of sentimentality running through my veins.

Laugh, learn, and live more green and natural with Jennifer at Little Green Secrets where country living is a little easier. Also visit the Homeschool Roster where she writes about the experiences of her homeschooling family.

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