The Stay-at-Home Dilemma: What to Do with Donations

Note: This post is definitely not “evergreen” since it is based on the ever-changing recommendations and restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. All of this content is “as of this writing,” so please follow current government guidelines including what is available on the CDC website. Since so many are working from home or homeschooling, a mass Read More

Note: This post is definitely not “evergreen” since it is based on the ever-changing recommendations and restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. All of this content is “as of this writing,” so please follow current government guidelines including what is available on the CDC website.

Since so many are working from home or homeschooling, a mass decluttering is in the works. After clearing out all the closets, drawers and garages, what can be done with all the donations? I’ll share some safe options for dealing with your cast-offs, but first, here are the hard, cold facts:

Donations centers are closed

IMG 2579After dozens of phone calls, I finally confirmed that the larger organizations in Northeast Florida are not making pickups and are not able to accept drop-off donations. This is in spite of what you might have seen on some websites, map apps, or heard on recorded messages.

When I was finally able to speak to a real person at the Salvation Army in Jacksonville, Florida, they told me all locations were closed. In fact, the person I spoke with was unaware that the phone recording said their location was open for pick-ups Monday – Friday. He appreciated the heads up! They simply haven’t had time to update the information. The same for Goodwill. Their recorded message stated that although stores were closed, some donation centers were open for drop-off. However, several of my clients found those centers closed.

Here are a few of these local organizations. Check back with these sites later about donations, but please note they all need monetary support now:

BEAM Thrift (see their specific request for virtual donations)

Habitat for Humanity offices and ReStore locations

The Salvation Army

Goodwill Industries of North Florida

Vietnam Veterans (get notified of when pickups resume)

City Rescue Mission (requesting emergency gifts to help with their COVID-19 response)

Let it go later

Prepare it to sell it…later

In the spirit of social distancing and Stay at Home orders, we should not be leaving home to conduct sales. But if you have things of value to sell, you can certainly prepare for it by:

  • Taking photos
  • Gathering specs (measurements, etc)
  • Writing detailed descriptions
  • Partially pack (if materials are available)

Once restrictions are lifted, you will be so organized you will be ready to post immediately!

Recycle electronics…later

I often take old computers, monitors, fax machines (remember those?), printers and more to Staples since they accept a large variety of electronics. Although they are considered an “essential provider for working and learning” they are not accepting items for recycling at this time. The following local businesses are still accepting items, however, consider supporting them with donations after restrictions are lifted:

Sensible Recycling

Urban Mining

Donate clothing, household goods, and the dreaded miscellaneous…later

Pack up gently used items for donation at a later date, and, as much as it pains me to say it, go ahead and stick it in the guest room. There, I said it! Most homes have a room that is the “catch-all” for excess stuff they are holding for someone else (like nearly grown offspring), things waiting for a decision, seasonal clothing, wrapping paper, etc. This room-where-things-accumulate is one of the rooms I often transform with clients.

Other temporary storage locations for weather-proof items include attics, garages, and sheds. Clothing might mildew in the elements, but plastic children’s toys will survive. For my northern friends with basements, lucky you!

But not so fast. Before your drag in 20 bags of donations, please declutter and organize what is already in the room first, including closets, dressers, trunks, and any other containers. You may end up with more for your donation pile, but at least you will have made progress with another room in your house.

Let it go now

Curb alert apps vs. bulk pickup

Ready to let go no matter where it goes? Take your stuff to the curb two days before bulk pickup. If someone wants it, they will pick it up.

What about posting curb alerts on sites like Freecycle and Nextdoor? Freecycle has requested that local moderators only allow posting of items – where permitted – which are essential/basic necessities. So, posting alerts for essentials such as paper and cleaning products, diapers, etc, would be within guidelines (again, these guidelines are moving targets) since your donations will prevent someone else from having unnecessary exposure in a grocery store. As for the non-essentials, wait to post until after restrictions have been lifted, or take them to the curb and they will be gone by garbage day. Note: some municipalities have temporarily suspended bulk pick-ups, so check with your service provider.

Donate through Amazon

As of this writing, Amazon is still offering its amazing Give Back Box program. When you receive your next shipment of “whatever,” save the box and fill it with seasonally appropriate clothing and household goods you no longer need. They’ll even provide a free label! You will have recycled a box and gained space in your closet!

You don’t have to do it alone. I can help you declutter and organize your home with Virtual Organizing! Call 904-500-7678 (SORT), message me or schedule your free consult for business or residential organizing, life and productivity coaching. I’d love to help you get some clarity so you can live the life you desire!

Barbara Trapp, CPO®, Certified Professional Organizer® and Life/Productivity Coach
Zen Your Den®  and Zen Your Biz™
Professional Member, NAPO (National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals)
Life Transitions Specialist, NAPO
Residential Organizing Specialist, NAPO
Workplace Productivity Specialist, NAPO

Cocooning: Self-Quarantining Reframed

Social distancing… self-quarantine… I much prefer the term, cocooning: “to envelop or surround in a protective or comforting way.” Faith Popcorn, a trend forecaster and marketing consultant coined this term in 1981, when there was no email or internet. So many of us are running around trying to stock up, sanitize and avoid contact that Read More

One green and one brown cocoon hanging next to a butterfly. Photo by Suzanne D. Williams on UnsplashSocial distancing… self-quarantine… I much prefer the term, cocooning: “to envelop or surround in a protective or comforting way.” Faith Popcorn, a trend forecaster and marketing consultant coined this term in 1981, when there was no email or internet. So many of us are running around trying to stock up, sanitize and avoid contact that I thought we should remember the benefits of staying in and cocooning. Extroverts: I get why it’s harder for you than it is for us introverts! Here are some ways to use the extra time and space.

Keep or create a robust routine

Merriam-Webster defines boredom as “the state of being weary and restless through lack of interest.” So make sure there’s a family schedule and a plan for everyone! Don’t have a consistent schedule for sleep, meditation/quiet time, or reading? Schedule it in. This doesn’t have to be a boot camp, but healthy routines can boost the immune system. So schedule the meals, limit screen time and get active (frisbee anyone?). And don’t forget personal and professional development time! This is the perfect opportunity to create or strengthen your ideal routine.

Break out the games

Every family home I’ve helped organize has a closet, room, cabinet or other areas full of games for various ages. This is a great time to go through them all, weed out what you don’t want and give the rest a more prominent location in your home.

Where does your family congregate? The kitchen? Living room? Clear out space nearby so they are easier to access. If they buried in a guest room closet you may not be inclined to dig them out. But if they are in a kitchen cabinet, coat closet shelf or living room, you’re more likely to get your game on.

Read the books, listen to the podcasts

I’ve had a book-a-week goal since 2016 and this is a great time to catch up. I have numerous books on my Kindle reader and Audible account. Many I haven’t read yet, others I’d like to read again. I give myself reading breaks in-between work tasks.

Fiction books, biographies and podcasts are great to listen to while cleaning, doing cardio or other mindless tasks because there is no need for notetaking. Before I know it, the tub is clean or I’ve clocked 20 minutes on the bike. Pew Research shared some stats about who is and isn’t reading. I think that percentage is going to change for the better as we all start cocooning more with books!

Take the classes

Like most entrepreneurs and small business owners, I’ve invested in a lot in online training and mentoring! There are three paid Facebook groups that deserve more time, and more courses than I care to admit that I rushed to buy but haven’t dug into (I’m talking about you Michael Hyatt and Udemy!). Lots of good intentions, not enough time. This is an opportunity for an extreme focus on personal and professional development.

Use the home exercise equipment

I have a weight set, kettlebell, dumbbells, exercise bands, an indoor bike, yoga mat and more. But most of my regimen has been at the gym. It’s time to self-motivate, dust off the equipment, turn up the music and get to work! Many indoor bikes, treadmills, etc. turn into clothing storage. Uncover it all and try it out. Don’t want it? Let it go, but find another way to get your cardio in.

Build up natural immunities

A strong and healthy body helps build up natural immunities so we are better able to ward off illnesses. That means getting enough sleep, eating right and getting exercise. While cocooning, make sure those healthy routines include stress-reducing activities. If you’ve never tried meditation, I highly recommend you try it now. It’s not just a “woo-woo” thing. There are science-backed benefits! Eliminate distractions, and sit quietly, focusing on your breathing and posture. When a thought comes in, let it wash over you and away, much like waves in the ocean. It’s hard to stop the mind from cycling through to-do’s, ideas, and worries, but just attempting meditation has its benefits, even if it isn’t perfect. Nothing is perfect.

Doing mindless, repetitive activities can also reduce stress, similar to meditation. Cutting up produce, folding clothes, crafting, weeding a garden… these all can be mindfulness activities when your thoughts are focused on just the task at hand.

Rediscover your cookbooks

I have some favorite well-used cookbooks and a few others with recipes I’ve drooled over, but haven’t tried yet. You probably have a few that you’ve meant to try when you get around to it. Well, now’s the time!

Pull all your cookbooks together, donate the ones you know you’ll never use, and select two-three recipes you will try this week. Have a few people in your household? Select a dozen and put them up for a family vote. Or let each person pick a recipe that they will prepare. You’ll finally get some use out of those cookbooks and put some variety into mealtime. Our local community still needs your support, though, so consider ordering out occasionally while cocooning.

Clean

If the store shelves are any indication, everyone has enough cleaning supplies for a small hospital. So use them! Don’t have a cleaning routine? Consider what chores should be done daily (dishes, making beds), weekly (laundry, bathrooms, trash) or monthly (refrigerator, lights, fan blades). Here are some things you should clean now with antibacterial wipes or sprays, or a CDC-recommended sanitizing solution with bleach:

  • Entire home: doorknobs, wall switches, cabinet, and appliance handles, lamp switches, toilet flush handles, faucet handles, railings, door frames, and doorbell buttons. Don’t forget to disinfect sponges and scrub brushes!
  • Technology: (follow cleaning instructions): Phones, keyboards, tablets, watches, fitness bands/wearables, plugs.
  • Car: Seat belt buckles, door handles, gear shifts, visor, rearview mirror, steering wheel, trunk latch, gas cap, accessory controls.

Help loved ones stay connected

A number of older women I have consulted with reach out for my help because they are alone overwhelmed and have no friends or family to help them, either due to distance, family dynamics, or strained relationships. Many are lonely and depressed. Loneliness affects men as well, but they do not ask for help as often (even more worrisome). It is heartbreaking.

If you have a parent or older distant relative, friend or even a neighbor who lives alone, help them stay connected when they can’t leave their homes. Teach them how to use technology so that they can make face-to-face calls, whether through Facetime, Zoom, Skype or other communication technology. Write down the steps and practice with them. Then use it to check in with them! Social distancing, self-quarantining and cocooning does not mean disconnection.

In summary…

In spite of a raging pandemic, we all have an opportunity to emerge from our cocoons healthier, smarter, and more connected than ever before. Oh – and with clean and organized homes!

Do you finally have time at home to get organized? I can help get it done with Virtual Organizing! Call 904-500-7678 (SORT), message me, or schedule your free consult for business or residential organizing, life and productivity coaching. I’d love to help you get some clarity so you can live the life you desire!

Barbara Trapp, CPO®, Certified Professional Organizer® and Life/Productivity Coach
Zen Your Den®  and Zen Your Biz™
Professional Member, NAPO (National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals)
Life Transitions Specialist, NAPO
Residential Organizing Specialist, NAPO
Workplace Productivity Specialist, NAPO