Yesterday, I went to Facebook Marketplace to look for a used side table for my living room. I didn’t find anything I liked, so I decided to check a site I often use to donate items, Freecycle. It’s a place where you can post anything you no longer need, but may be of use to someone else: clothes, furniture, kitchen accessories, name it. I never throw out the cardboard boxes from deliveries. I flatten them, collect a few, and then post. Within a few hours, someone claims them. Same with packing materials, like bubble wrap, those little air pillows etc. There’s people moving all the time, and they all need to pack their stuff!

I didn’t find the table, but got curious and started to look through the “wanted” items, something I’ve never done before. Usually, I post what I want to give away but never look for what’s wanted.

What I found was heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time.

I saw people looking for old computers so they could work from home, when they couldn’t afford to buy one.

Got a bit of sheetrock compound left from that last home improvement project? Why throw it away? There was someone looking for it, and I actually happen to have it, left from the previous home owner.

Storage boxes to keep stray cats warm in the Winter? Yeah, there was someone looking for those too.

But what brought tears to my eyes was a survivor of domestic violence who got herself a room to stay with only a keurig coffee maker and a microwave oven. She needed sheets, towels, kitchen utensils, dishes…

Something about that post really got me thinking of how blessed I am, in every aspect. I can spare all the things she asked for. And I offered to drop off those items for her, just waiting to hear back.

I also had some stuff I had been trying to sell on Facebook Marketplace, and decided to donate it all. Then I started to walk around the house looking for more things I can give, and to connect with folks who need them.

The experience gave me the idea to write this. It feels great to make a difference, however small, in someone’s life. I can’t offer that woman a sense of safety and I can’t take away the trauma that she has endured. But I can help her sleep in a warm bed at night and have a nice dish to eat from.

You don’t need to be rich to give.

But giving makes you feel rich.

This holiday season, consider helping someone in need. It helps to remind us of the abundance of life. Below are the links to some organizations that take donations of items you may think of as trash but that could really make a difference in someone’s life:

Freecycle: you can donate just about anything there. And you can leave your items out for contactless pick up, if concerned about safety.

Donate your old suitcases: This one is a very special one… do you know that foster kids sometimes have to move their belongings from one foster home to another in trash bags? How humiliating that may feel to them, on top of everything else they’re already going through. Got a suitcase you no longer use or need? Find out where you can donate here.

The Salvation Army: they accept donation of items and have free pick up you can book online.

Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA): they also accept donation of household items and offer free pickup.

Habitat for Humanity: they usually accept building materials, furniture and appliance donations to resell at their stores. Check out the site for details.

JerseyCares: For the past 3 years, Studio 108 was a collection site for Jersey Cares. We collected hundreds of gently used coats in preparation for Winter season. We didn’t do so this year, due to the pandemic, but coat donations are still being accepted! Check their site for drop off locations. They also have volunteer opportunities.

There are many, many other places where you can donate your time or your unwanted items, don’t limit yourself to this short list. But I hope this helps you to get started!

Happy giving!

Theresa Conlon

Theresa is a Yoga Alliance certified instructor (200-hour RYT) who has been teaching since 2013. She is skilled in various yoga styles including Hatha, Ashtanga, Vinyasa Flow, Restorative, and Meditation. Theresa also brings an extensive dance background to her yoga practice, which includes teaching both modern dance and ballet. She has over 40 years of dance/theater performing experience and currently showcases her choreography as part of Bergen Dance Makers, a dance collective in northern New Jersey. Theresa’s yoga classes offer a calming mix of traditional asana postures and creative movement flows, supported by energy-moving breath. Students of all skill levels are invited to find ease and peace in their bodies/minds/spirits through the joyful bliss of yoga movement.

Carrie Parker Gastelu

Carrie Parker Gastelu, E-500 RYT, has been teaching yoga since 1993. Carrie began her journey when Yogi Raj Mani Finger initiated Carrie into the ISHTA Yoga lineage after training with Mani’s son, Yogi Raj Alan Finger. In addition, she has studied many other yoga traditions as well as anatomy, physiology, movement, and awareness practices to create an eclectic style all her own. She is known for her honest, non-dogmatic yet passionate approach.

Carrie is a regular speaker and contributor at conferences, websites, and print publications and has been featured in Fit Magazine, the Yoga Zone Book, and in the Yoga Zone Video, “Flexibility and Stress Release.”

Lisa Podesta-Coombs

When Lisa found yoga in 2008, she started to find herself again and it set her on a path of health and healing. She received her 200HR RYT certification from Raji Thron of Yoga Synthesis, and her 30HR Chakra Yoga Teacher Training certificate with Anodea Judith and holds a Y12SR (Yoga of 12 Step Recovery) certification. She is also a Holistic Health Coach (certified through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition). Lisa believes we’re all on a journey of learning how to trust ourselves; she helps her clients build that trust by supporting them in creating better habits for a better life through various functional movement modalities like yoga, barre, Pilates & strength training, mindset, and whole food nutrition.

Forever a student with a passion for people, holistic health, and self-actualization, Lisa is always embracing opportunities to advance her education to better serve; Ayurveda workshops & immersions have been of particular interest as she continues to deepen her knowledge of and experience with food as medicine and she recently completed Unleash Her Power Within, a transformational program of rediscovering our truest selves, powered by Tony Robbins.  

As she continues to give herself space and grace to nourish her natural self and actualize her potential, Lisa continues to share the gift of movement as medicine to inspire authenticity & health in body, mind, and spirit. You can expect mindful, accessible, dynamic, playful, and uplifting classes from Lisa.

Tanisha Sutton

Tanisha’s yoga journey began when she was an undergraduate student studying at university. Changes in her health coupled with anxiety over grades, relationships, and life in general, forced her to search for healthy lifestyle choices she could implement to help manage the stress that she was experiencing as a new adult. A friend of hers suggested that she attend some community yoga classes to help with the anxiety and increase her daily physical activity. Initially, she was reluctant and filled with all these false ideas about yoga and the people who practiced yoga. Like many others, she was concerned that her body type and lack of flexibility automatically excluded her from being a student. Curiously yet hesitantly, she journeyed on to her first class and began laying the foundation for a home and public practice that has supported her over the years.

On this journey, she has discovered that yoga has nothing to do with appearances nor is there anything, but an open mind needed to begin. She intends to provide you with a gentle yoga session that is safe, inclusive, and accessible. Her classes are an expression of self-love and are a deliberate choice to tend to ALL the parts of our being that are neglected, ignored, or disregarded during the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Through meditation, deep breathing, and gentle movement we will collectively share space to observe, rest and re-set. Tanisha is honored to share her practice with you and looks forward to seeing you on the mat!