Updated: May 22
'Tis the season to declutter warm items and share with people in need.
As the weather cools, I love to gather warm winter supplies and share them.
Coats, blankets, socks, hats, gloves and scarves seem to breed over the summer months, so I go through each category in the fall or winter and make a plan to get them to people who need them.
Homelessness is an issue that hurts my heart.
I wish I could give every homeless person a hug, a home, a home cooked meal, a hot bath and a good job.
That isn't going to happen any time soon, but I CAN support local homeless shelters and give warm winter items to people on the streets.
My favorite way to share the warmth is to keep a bag or bin behind the driver's seat in my car, then give them to people who ask for help on corners. I've also shared with people who look cold sitting on a bench, living in a tent, or curled up in a sleeping bag.
I've never been turned down and the looks of surprise and gratitude warm me from the inside.
By nature I'm a shy person (which often comes as a surprise to people who meet me), but after the first time I did this, it's easy for me to bypass my shyness.
When I started doing this years ago, I lived in Seattle and I did a coat drive at my office job. I collected a trunk full of coats and planned to take them to a local homeless shelter.
But before that happened, I saw a man sitting on the side of the road looking cold one day. I pulled over, threw aside my shy self (it took a couple minutes!), backed up, got out, grabbed a coat that seemed like it might fit, and asked the him if he'd like a warm coat.
I can still see the look of complete shock on his face. After he picked up his jaw from the ground, he found his voice and said, "Wow. Yes. Please. Thank you. Oh my gosh. Really?"
I almost fell over with joy as I handed it to him with what started as a shy smile, but turned into a smile that just about cracked my face open.
As I drove away, I thought of how simple this act was for me and how much of a difference it could make for him.
I was hooked on this sharing winter warmth stuff. I added blankets and gloves to the pile of coats. When I got tired of keeping them in my car, I donated the rest to a shelter.
Return to Warmth
I got away from this practice when I moved away from Seattle, but I was reminded of it by my kind Mother-in-law (she calls me her Daughter-in-love). She told she keeps a bag of clean socks behind her driver's seat and gives them to homeless people - I love this! When I or my in-home organizing clients clear out good socks, this is often what I do with them.
A client a couple winters ago cleared out two giant bags full of coats and I had them in my car when I went to a downtown Bremerton art walk. A few feet from where I parked I noticed a woman and man sitting huddled on a bench, talking. A suitcase sat nearby. I worked up my nerve and asked if they'd possibly like warm coats. They looked at each other wide-eyed, looked at me, then nodded.
I took both bags to them and had them choose whatever coats they wanted. They covered themselves with warm coats and I gave them both a hug before I put the rest back in my car.
Again the practice died for a couple years.
Then, last winter my sweet hubby said he'd like to give out warm things to people we see on corners near where we shop. We decluttered our own stashes and bought a few new ones, then handed them out as we saw people standing outside asking for help.
I just went through all my warm things and this evening we plan to go through blankets together before I put a bin full of warmth in my car for easy access.
It's Time to Declutter
Regardless of whether you choose to donate to Goodwill, the local homeless shelter or to someone on the street, this is a GREAT time to declutter these items:
To declutter, I always recommend going one category at a time. Here's how I do it:
Gather ALL the items from that category
Lay them down together
Choose your favorites
Put ones with holes and stains in a bag or bin (trash or donate to one of these organizations)
Put good quality, unwanted items in bags or bins and put them right into your car
Make a home for what you keep - easy to put away + easy to find
Remember, you're only done when the unwanted items are where they need to go! This might be the trash, St. Vincent de Paul, Goodwill, homeless shelters or cold people you see on the streets.
I'd love to hear how your decluttering is going! And if you'd like guidance on decluttering, visit my post,
Here's a video showing the bin I'll be filling up and using this year...
Happy decluttering! And remember I'm here to help!
Please remember that I'm here for you! Reach out if you have questions and/or you feel stuck.
There's no need to struggle with clutter anymore - you're not alone and I can help you feel better right away.
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