I have stored things in the garage and in closets for 2 1/2 years since moving into Chris' townhouse. This winter I started to feel stifled by all of it. That is ironic since about 10 years ago I had bought my first house (3 bedroom) and spent the following years trying to fill it. The fact that I still had unpacked boxes of stuff proved I really didn't need it anymore.
So while at my mom's I suggested we have a garage sale. We were unloading kitchen cupboards and closet space at her house and I figured our combined things would make a decent garage sale. At our garage sale on June 7th, a woman stopped by and bought a can opener. She said she goes to sales looking for hand held can openers to donate to a charity her church has started called The Giving Closet.
At some point she realized that the very poor did not have can openers, yet we all donate canned food without realizing that they can't afford to even buy the can openers. I was pretty humbled by this and said we'd planned to donate what was left. She went back to her car and brought back a business card for us.
When I go home I looked up The Giving Closet online. I found a recent newspaper article in addition to their website. After looking at both I was so impressed by the practicality of what these people were doing for the poorest people in our area. It started as a charitable effort from their church and became a non-profit agency.
The charity was started by Denise Currie, a former pastor. The donations are given to the poor, the shopping hours are set, the quantity of goods is limited, and clients have income screened to make sure they qualify making less than 30% of the area median. (Please see the Columbian article for more info).
After the garage sale we did take some boxes to Goodwill. I kept all the kitchen items from the garage sale for The Giving Closet. Then asked my family to donate any clothes. We filled 3 bags of clothes that have been using up closet space. Today Chris and I dropped it off, and got to see the building and volunteers working there, including Denise who I recognized from the article.
I just can't say how impressed I am by this group making something happen for people who struggle to make it. Since the recession I've heard about friends and colleagues who've had to make drastic choices or even lost their homes. But, none of us have come close to living in that kind of poverty. The effort and intention of those involved in The Giving Closet are a much needed reminder that there are good people out there doing good things, you just won't hear about on the news tonight.
The Columbian article:
Their Facebook page: