“Spring Cleaning” with a Purpose

It’s that time of year when most of us feel obligated to do “spring cleaning”.  At least we attempt to clean windows, wash curtains, clean out the garden shed, and other tasks we dislike doing the rest of the year.  Give your cleaning a purpose this year, and see if it puts an optimistic outlook on this annual routine.

This year, consider what you can give to someone who has a need.  Not just the ugly Christmas gift from Aunt Edna, but look around for those things that you never use.  With continued economic challenges facing families, used items (in good condition) are in such demand.  Charities are stretched to meet extreme needs with very limited resources.

Meanwhile, we have garages full of “stuff” that we don’t really need, but we aren’t willing to part with, or we don’t know where to donate.  Make some calls to churches, local community charities, local shelters.  Did you know that Shriners collect old eyeglasses?  Do you realize that many shelters can use bed sheets and towels, or that local veterinarians often can use towels?  Have you got some books and magazines that the folks at the retirement center would enjoy? 

Here’s a list to help you decide what can be donated:

  • clothing of all kinds: shoes, coats, suits, dresses
  • linens, towels, bed sheets
  • older upholstered or wood furniture: sofas, chairs, bookcases
  • electronics, computers, telephones
  • non-perishable food, if before the expiration date (to shelters or food banks)
  • tools and equipment
  • kitchenware
  • craft supplies
  • durable medical equipment: wheelchairs, walkers, canes
  • prescription eye glasses
  • office equipment and supplies
  • books and magazines
  • toys your children outgrow

Start clearing out those things that you don’t use; now you have a purpose and a plan.  As for washing the windows, sorry, you’re on your own for that task!

© 2010 Julie Hall

8 Ways You Can Help Your Elderly Parent BEFORE Crisis

Here are 8 ways that you can be proactive and and take action now to help de-clutter your parents’ home.  Do this now for their sake, and for your own sake.  I can tell you from personal experience: you do not want to have to do this in “crisis mode.”

  1. Have the important conversations with your parents.  Approach them with love and ask them about their wishes.  Try to gain an understanding of their financial situation.  Be sure to know where all the important legal documents are kept. 
  2. Start to de-clutter your parents’ home.  Since they won’t likely appreciate this, suggest that you are helping them avoid both a fire and a tripping hazard.  Start by removing expired food, unused things, piles of newspapers, etc.
  3. Discuss and document allocation of personal property and heirlooms.  Create a wish list and ask an appraiser to assess the values.  Suggest “gifting” of special items while your parents are still alive.
  4. Every time you leave their house, take a few bags of donation items with you.  Dress the less fortunate.  Tell your parents you are helping them to “thin out” the house.
  5. If your parents have already moved out or passed away, begin the process of clearing out the house by using three piles to sort belongings: donate, sell, keep.
  6. When in doubt, always have a personal property appraiser evaluate antiques, collectibles, and anything you are not sure about.
  7. Continue to keep in touch with siblings and keep everyone on the same page.  This is the only way that whole family will maintain close and healthy relationships through this process.
  8. Always come from a place of love.  In the end, life is about MUCH more than the stuff.  It’s about the wonderful, deep, and abiding relationships within our families.

That’s my thoughts for this week.  Click on the “leave a comment” line below, and let’s discuss this together.

© 2010 Julie Hall

Use your stuff to bless others

You don’t need me to tell you that times are economically challenging right now.  This true story of a recent estate I handled may give us all new perspectives on our accumulated stuff.

I had to clean out the home of a lady who passed away.  The family had already been given all the items they wanted from her home.  What to do with the rest of the belongings?

Often a family wants to donate the remainder of the belongings to charity and doesn’t have a preference where to donate.  When that happens, I recommend Blanket America Ministries http://www.blanketamericaministries.org/.

We cleared all the remaining items of furniture and household goods, and the ministry loaded them on their truck.  They ended up taking all this to a woman up in Appalachia who had been burned out of her house.  Everything that was unloaded from the truck was exactly what she needed.  Amazement and thankful looks were everywhere, from this woman to the ministry volunteers.

The obvious suggestion here is that when you pass away, there are places where your possessions can help someone in need.  That’s good, but what about all the possessions that we hold onto now?

We have garages that can’t hold cars, we have linen closets that we have to lean on the door to close, etc.  In a word, we have so much we don’t need!  Who could we bless now?  There are many in need who look for a professional outfit to interview for work, or a house full of furniture due to disaster, or clothes for growing children.  Maybe it’s time to seek out a ministry that helps others, and pass along some of the extra stuff we have accumulated. 

What do you think?

© 2009 Julie Hall