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!