I Have Too Much Stuff
It’s a never-ending situation I am constantly trying to get on top of. Four kids = a lot of outgrown clothes, toys, and … stuff. It’s embarrassing. Not because it’s a huge mess (though it is, sometimes) but because we actually HAVE so much stuff. We don’t need it. We sometimes don’t even know we have it.
I want to live with less. I want my kids to learn to live with less.
A friend sent me an article recently that really resonated with me, and summed up some of my soapbox feelings on donating. If you want, you can read it here. A quote from that article really hit the spot:
It’s time to think about not only what we give and how we give it, but also why we give it. Just because it makes us feel better (and cleans out our garage at the same time), doesn’t mean it’s the best for those in need. Perhaps we should look a little deeper into our hearts and wallets when we can say, I don’t have money to give to the poor, but I have a lot of stuff. Maybe we need to buy less stuff, so we have more to give? – Kristen Welch
Who Can Use My Extra Stuff?
My biggest hurdles are my time and my heart. My time because I have four kids. My heart because I am the keeper of all my Dad’s things (he passed a few years ago), and also the keeper of pretty much every single thing my kids ever wore. (I told you, my heart.)
As I work on this never-ending purge, I’ve found myself darting from one organization to another, making sure my donations are put to the best use. One place can recycle broken electronics but not the stained and ripped clothing. Another will recycle that clothing, but won’t take stuffed animals. One place puts pretty much anything unusable in the dumpster without any recycling at all. (Sigh. What a waste!)
I did some research, and here’s what I found. The following organizations use your donations, or the profit they make from your donations, to offer services to people in West Michigan. They are listed in alphabetical order. Some organizations provide a very clear list of what they do and do not accept on their website. We encourage you to review these lists before donating.
Please, Please, do not Donate your Trash Items
When talking to many of these organizations, the resounding hurdle they faced was dealing with unusable items. Please remember to only donate items you would buy yourself. Donating items that are unusable actually hurt the organization you are trying to help. It takes time and labor to sort items, which equals money paid out for dealing with items that won’t bring money in. In addition, unusable items that are thrown away result in a higher trash bill.
Local Donation Centers That Pour Back Into West Michigan
2820 29th Street SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512, 616-254-7777
- Bethany’s Thrift Store offers a wide variety of high-quality merchandise including gently used clothing and household items as well as brand new beds and furniture. All proceeds directly support Bethany Christian Services’ programs in our local community, including adoption, foster care, and more.
2950 Clyde Park Ave. SW, Wyoming, MI 49509, 616-613-6770
- The Families of Promise Closet of Hope is a volunteer-run resource providing clothing and other items free of charge to children (ages newborn to 18) of foster, adoptive, kinship, guardianship and safe families in our church and community. Families may receive clothing and supplies for new child placements and growing children, and is a resource for ALL of the children in your home.
1823 S. Division, Grand Rapids, MI 49507, 616-456-6150
- In The Image’s Free Store is open six days a week to serve families in crisis. Those in need can shop for items their family needs like clothing, household items, and shoes FREE of charge in their Free Store.
Note: In the Image has an excellent recycling program. They take stained clothing, ripped clothing (holes smaller than an adult fist), paper, and cardboard. If donating these items, please bag or box them up separately and label accordingly. This saves the volunteers precious sorting time.
3282 Van Buren Street, Hudsonville, MI 49426, 616-669-2933
- Love’s Treasures Resale generates funding for ministries coordinated through Love INC. Proceeds from purchases will be used to meet local needs.
Locations in Sparta and Jenison.
- Mel Trotter Ministries thrift stores exist to support the programs and services at the downtown Mission to help men, women and families overcome homelessness in greater Grand Rapids.
2929 29th Street SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512, 616-942-2929
- New 2 You supports Grand Rapids Christian Schools, helping reduce tuition costs and keep high-quality Christian education affordable for all.
2852 28th Street SW, Grandville, MI 49418, 616-249-2020
- Nice Twice supports Grandville Calvin Christian Schools, helping make tuition affordable for students.
10075 Northland Drive NE, Rockford, MI 49341, 616-866-3478
- North Kent Connect is a Christian organization in northern Kent County that helps our struggling neighbors with basic life needs and guides them to self-sufficiency. Donations and volunteer efforts make everything we do possible.
389 68th Street SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49548, 616-455-2522
- 100% of proceeds from the Rustic Market and the Pine Rest Thrift Store are used to extend the ministry of Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services through the Patient Assistance Fund (PAF). PAF provides assistance to individuals, children, and families in the community who need mental health care, but have little or no means to pay for services.
25 Sheldon Boulevard SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503, 616-459-4681
- The YWCA provides women fleeing violent situations many of the things they need to help ease the uncomfortable situation of living in a place that is not their own home. They accept donations of household items, toiletries, toys and craft items. All items must be new. A helpful list is found here.
Help Us Add to This List
We’re betting there are more great organizations out there. If so, let us know! Please leave their information in the comments section.