January 20, 2013
I learn a lot from my readers.
Last week, for example, I received an e-mail from Karen Cheyney, who wrote, "Could you please do one of your Sunday articles on how to get rid of old stuff, now that Christmas is over?"
It seemed like a good idea, so I gave her a call. Turns out Karen, who is registrar of voters in Durham, is also an expert on matching up items folks want to donate with charities that want to receive them.
"People tend to get new things during the holidays and then toss the old. We throw out so much and others need so much," says Cheyney. "It's great when you can bring those two extremes together."
Cheney, who has two children in college, makes her kids clean out their rooms during winter break and this year was no exception. She now has books and other items ready to go.
"We give books to library book sales and local PTAs," says Cheyney. "Toys and other children's stuff to the Connecticut Association of Foster and Adoptive Parents in Rocky Hill."
She gives her old furniture to the New Haven Furniture Bank, Goodwill or Salvation Army. (www.use.salvationarmy.org, http://locator.goodwill.org.) Warm outerwear goes to coat drives. (Search for local coat drives at http://www.onewarmcoat.org.) Books on cassette go to area nursing homes.
Old bikes and vacuums go to local voc-tech schools.
"Most everyone knows about donating clothing," says Cheyney. "But the possibilities go way beyond that."
I started doing some research and found that she's right. If you've got serviceable items, whatever they are, chances are good there's an organization that wants them. Baby supplies. Food. Cellphones. Computers. Toiletries. Office supplies. Cleaning products. Videos and books. Sleeping bags, tents and tarps. Backpacks and totes.
Even sheets, blankets and towels that are too worn out to donate to thrift shops.
"We give them to animal shelters," says Cheyney.
Like The Simon Foundation Inc. (www.simonfoundation.org.) The Bloomfield shelter accepts donations of dog and cat food, leashes, collars, crates, carriers, cleaning supplies, bleach, paper towels and, yes, blankets and towels. The Protectors of Animals in East Hartford (www.poainc.org) accepts blankets, pet supplies for dogs and cats, mops, brooms, sponges and other cleaning supplies.
At 211ct.org, visitors can hit the "Search for Services" link, enter a ZIP code, click on "Ways To Donate" and then choose from a variety of options. Click on "Household Goods," and you'll get a list of agencies in your area that accept donations. (Those without access to a computer can call 211 for the information.)
Go to http://www.connecticut.networkofcare.org, click on "Find Services," then "Basic Needs: Material Assistance." You'll find cellphone and computer donation programs, organizations looking for everything from cookware and dishes to airline miles.
The Community Renewal Team accepts donations of books, food, clothing, household goods, personal care supplies, school supplies and toys for its East Hartford Community Shelter, 385 Main St. in East Hartford, which houses men, women and children. Call ahead at 860-568-0323.
Many church and nonprofit thrift stores accept in-season clothing and house wares.
Individually packaged, kid-friendly foods like juice boxes, granola bars, fruit cups and or apple sauce, instant oatmeal packets and other foods are accepted for the Backpack Nutrition Program at Hands On Hartford, 1 Buckingham St. in Hartford. (The organization fills backpacks with food for kids in need to take home on weekends.) Details: http://www.handsonhartford.org/backpack.
The Hartford Vet Center, 25 Elm St. in Rocky Hill, accepts nonperishable foods, clothing and toiletries for needy veterans. Information: 860-563-8800.
Habitat For Humanity's reStores accept hand, power and garden tools in good working order, building supplies, some household furnishings and lighting, appliances ( less than five years old) and other items. Check http://bit.ly/fOPLKD for a directory of Connecticut reStore locations, then check individual stores for donation guidelines.
A number of charities accept cars and other vehicles. Old or new, running or not, the entire net proceeds from the sale of your used car, truck or van supports the charity you choose and you get a minimum $500 tax deduction. For information and to arrange free pickup, go to http://www.donateacar.com and select your beneficiary.
Copyright © 2013, The Hartford Courant