This holiday season, how would you like to do good deeds while reducing the burden of clutter in your home and without spending a dime? Not everyone has bottomless pockets or hours of free time to volunteer, but there is one thing I know each of you have in common with your home right now – things that you are not using. The dresses that no longer fit, the gadgets that are not being used and the gifts or sentimental items you’ve packed away because they do not fit your taste.

The act of donating has a dual purpose. First, by alleviating your space of unnecessary things, you eliminate the stress and burden of clutter while creating space for more important things in your life. Second, by donating unused items that are still in good condition, you can give sight to children around the world, provide women in transition with an interview suit, help disadvantage adults gain job skills and help charities raise money for their causes.

Here are a few tips to make donating easy:

donations box

  • Always keep a box, bag or bin marked “Donate” in your home. Encourage family members to clear out their rooms regularly and drop in items they no longer use.
  • Adopt a charity; really get to know their needs and how your unused items can help. Find motivation by understanding how much good you can do!
  • Plan a yard sale and be ready to donate all unsold items. Putting a date on your calendar forces you to create a deadline to get unused items out of your house. If you are feeling extra philanthropic, donate all yard sale proceeds to charity as well!
  • Hold a donating contest within your family or neighborhood. Reward the person who donates the most items, the highest dollar value or greatest volume (by weight).
  • Find out what charities in your area have pick up service. When the donate bags or boxes are full, simply call for a pick up. Write the phone number of the charity on the box so you do not need to hunt for the number.
  • Visit Richmond Goodwill and download the “Valuation Guide” to determine how much donated goods are worth for tax deductions.

National charities that may have donation centers near you:

  • Goodwill International Industries – serves people with workplace disadvantages and disabilities by providing job training and employment services
  • Dress for Success is a not-for-profit organization that helps low-income women make tailored transitions into the workforce.
  • The Lions Club vision program provides eyeglasses to the blind and visually impaired around the world.
  • Sprint Project Connect is a phone donation and recycling program to raise money and support for people with disabilities while providing an environmentally friendly way to dispose of used wireless phones.

When I went on a “simplification diet” and took a hard look at what I was storing in my home, I decided to get rid of things that I wasn’t using and that I may need “someday”. Guess what? Many years later, I haven’t missed a thing. Now, I have faith that the things I need will be available to me when I need them. Remember that material things only have value when they are being used, so this holiday season do something for yourself and your community by cleaning out the cabinets, closets, and drawers in your home and donating unused goods to charity.