Doing some ‘Autumn cleaning’ is an opportunity to prepare for Winter and help your local community in the process

Autumn is an opportunity to clear your closets and garage to prepare for the winter ahead and help those in need. Photo courtesy of Bon Marche, Sonoma, CA

With Summer officially over autumn is upon us, and as winter approaches this might be an opportunity to prepare for the change of seasons.

The Church Mouse is a locally operated thrift shop at the heart of town in Sonoma on ‘The Plaza.’ Photo by Jonathan Farrell

“Now is the time to start going through your old winter clothes to see what can go. Stores are often getting ready to set out their winter items in preparation – often right after the ‘back-to-school’ season is over. And donation centers are the same, says Stephen Murdock, speaking on behalf of  ‘JustJunk’ same day removal services. They’ll need winter items so those who may need them can have access to them well before the first sign of snowfall/cold weather.”

Discarding old clothing and various household items is more than just about hauling and dumping. 
Someone out there might need what you have and so giving to thrift shops and charity organizations that distribute goods and coordinate services is important to any community, large or small. It is especially beneficial when times are difficult, like these current times of pandemic, job losses and the housing crisis. 
In smaller communities, such as Sonoma, California for example, the impact a donation makes can be profound, no matter how small. Currently, the Sonoma area has more than half a dozen locally operated thrift shops and donation outlets. These local organizations/vendors provide outreach to the community. 
When the wildfires struck, an earthquake hit, or even when the economic down turn of 2008 had a ripple effect upon the community, local thrift shops and outreach like Bon Marche, The Church Mouse, F.I.S.H – Friends In Sonoma Helping, & Republic of Thrift, among others were there. 
While the willingness to discard might seem ubiquitous and straight-forward, it can be a daunting enterprise. Donations these days is very difficult,” said Anna Bimenyimana, CEO & President of Bon Marche thrift store. 
Bon Marche Thrift store and donation center has been helping the community in its varied charity outreach for close to 15 years. Photo courtesy of Bon Marche

No matter how generous people might be there is always some confusion as to what is useful and in good condition and what is not. Don’t mix your donations and stuff for the dump,” said Bimenyimana. 

Emphasizing that as a charity outreach Bon Marche like many similar charities don’t have the resources to be a public dump. When people just toss and dump things it puts a strain on the organizations that are trying to help. Things that should be properly discarded or removed can go to hauling businesses like ‘JustJunk’ among others. 
And as Bimenyimana also pointed out, “the local garbage company allows customers two to three times a year for a large dump pick up for free.”
These free pick ups for the dump must be scheduled in advance with your local scavenger/garbage collection company. Also, as Bimenyimana said, “Taking the time to call a local donations center to ask what kind of donations they’re accepting and not accepting along with their scheduled hours is very important.” 
Making a simple phone call, saves everyone time, effort and lots of frustration, aggravation and confusion. One of the most common habits among people today is to leave items on the street in the anticipation that someone will walk by and take it. This type of discarding of items is referred to as “illegal dumping.” Many people don’t realize this is counterproductive, only adding to the problem of waste and neglected items. 
When large appliances and electronics are involved, leaving stuff out on the street can become a problem, especially when items in good condition are left outside to become damaged by weather or vandalism. 
Many families that are struggling financially, seek out food banks and thrift stores to help meet their needs.  “When you make a donation to a Salvation Army Thrift Store, said Samantha Jarosz, a PR rep for the Salvation Army, you are actually playing a big role in improving your community. Each donation and sale helps fund Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Centers and Programs throughout the United States. Those programs are offered free of charge to participants and help them overcome their addictions. Your donations help restore hope and giving real people a second chance at life.
Located in many cities throughout the nation and around the world, according to the Nonprofit Times, the Salvation Army raised $557.3 million during the 2020 holiday season, last year. 

The Salvation Army ministers in 132 countries around the globe through a wide variety of spiritual and humanitarian programs ranging from day-care centers for children to senior living facilities for the aging. The Salvation Army also helps people overcome poverty, addiction and economic hardships through a wide range of social services. The nonprofit also responds to disasters and emergencies, providing relief for survivors and first responders. “You can find a Salvation Army donation site near you on the web, said Jarosz, by going to the donations page at Salvation Army. Or, reach the Salvation Army by phone at 1-800-728-7825.”

Since the onset of COVID-19 the current tally here in the United States might vary. Yet for more than a decade there are close to 8,000 Salvation Army locations, and more than 3 million volunteers assisting nearly 30 million people a year.
GoodWill is another well-established charitable organization that accepts donations of clothing, household items and other things that are in good and usable condition. 
Regardless of whether it’s a church organization or a local community outreach like F.I.S.H – Friends In Sonoma Helping, or Bon Marche, donations of items are helpful.
In an era when technology and trends are constantly changing it’s easy to be enthralled by the latest make and model. Yet as Murdoch noted “Materials from old electronics are valuable and can be reused in some way.” 
Spotlighting the resurgence of retrospective and nostalgia for vintage items, Murdoch also said. “Plenty of local organizations clamour for them. Just because something is out of fashion for you doesn’t mean others won’t enjoy your discarded silverware, flatware, curtains, home decorations or old electronics. These may have collector value to others down the line.” 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency and others, Americans generate over 250 million tons of waste annually. That’s about 4.5 pounds per person, per day. Roughly 87 million tons of that is recyclable.

Photo courtesy of
If a person chooses to call upon a professional hauling service, Murdoch pointed out.

JUSTJUNK® Franchises continue to donate as much as 60% of all items we remove to organizations like Salvation Army, Goodwill, Habitat For Humanity and more local outlets every year.” 

Taking the time to look through your garage, closet or wherever you let things clutter can help a lot of people. It’s important to be responsible with how you let go of stuff.