Around April or May, I begin to notice social media posts about spring cleaning. Spring cleaning is one of those huge tasks where you tackle all aspects of cleaning and organizing your house. Wikipedia defines spring cleaning:
“Spring cleaning is the practice of thoroughly cleaning a house in the springtime. … In many cultures, annual cleaning occurs at the end of the year, which may be in spring or winter, depending on the calendar. The term is also used metaphorically for any kind of heavy duty cleaning or organizing enterprise.”
This thorough and deep cleaning also includes purging clothing you no longer need, like winter coats, or want, like that fringe-y leather vest from the 80s themed New Years party. People will often turn to nonprofits to donate their gently used clothes, and some of those organizations will unfortunately turn you away. But why? Why would an organization with a mission to help others turn away something as valuable as clothing?
Many nonprofits, especially those that are more grassroots then with a national reach, are limited in space. If you visit a drop-in shelter, there will be a room dedicated to clothes. It’s a safe space for runaways, or those who are homeless, to find shelter, but to also find clean clothes to wear. Most people will find clothes to wear that is most comfortable for that moment, for that time. If you’re homeless on the streets of Houston, in July, you won’t be looking for long sleeved shirts and winter jackets. But in May or June of the same year, kind individuals will drive their donations of winter clothing to shelters. Volunteers are grateful for the donation, but they’re not sure where they can store such bulky items for another four or five months. There’s just no room.
Seasonal donations is just that: donating items that are relevant and useful for that time of the year. A meaningful way to work with your local nonprofits is to keep those items boxed up and ready to go, when the time is right. Does this mean you have to keep those boxes with you for a few extra months, yes. Does it somehow defeat the whole purpose of spring cleaning, sort of. But if your original intention was to give back to the community, to help those who won’t have a warm place to stay, then those boxes won’t be a nuisance at all but instead, a gift ready to share with the time is right.