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Friday, October 30, 2009

Freely Giving Friday: What and Where to Donate

It's time for Freely Giving Friday! Go here for an explanation of what Freely Giving Friday is all about! Please note I do not believe in "bragging" about how much you give. I do these giving posts every so often to help inspire you with ideas on ways you can give, express the importance of giving, and help encourage you in giving even when you feel as if you have very little to give. No matter how much we are struggling financially, we should always be reminded of how truly blessed we are. There are always ways to be thankful and give out of what God has poured into our lives so graciously.

If you have been following along closely with this blog, you have probably noticed by now that couponing to give and buying to donate are very strong convictions of mine. When you use coupons and shop the sales, you can get so many items for free or nearly free! Any time I can get an item almost free, I buy it to donate. I include this in my regular weekly grocery budget. This allows us to be able to give to others during a time of our life when we usually don't even know how we'll pay the bills!

For this Freely Giving Friday, I thought I would give some practical tips on what items can be donated and where items can be donated. There are so many ways to donate, and almost anything can be donated somewhere! And with the Holidays right around the corner, many opportunities for giving arise!

The picture above shows how we organize our donations. Basically, we have two boxes. One is for food items, and one is for household (toiletry, beauty, cleaning, etc.) supplies. Any time we come home from a shopping trip, I just throw the donation items into one of these boxes!

Throughout the month, opportunities might come up that allow us to give some of these items away to people in need. Some examples in the past have been: friends or family losing jobs and needing food, our church requesting specific supplies for mission trips, people having refrigerators going out and losing food, college brothers and sisters unable to pay for groceries, etc.

The list goes on and on. When somebody is in need around us, we simply go to the boxes and pull out items to donate. It's very convenient. At the end of the month, whatever has not been given away, we take to various places to donate: food banks, nursing homes, shelters, etc. Right now, the boxes are pretty low. Our church adopted a refugee family who we helped out with some items, and a friend of mine had a feminine product drive for homeless women.

If you want to get started on donating and giving more away to others, here are some ideas to get you started:

Food: food banks, food drives, homeless shelters

Clothing/Shoes: thrift stores that are for good causes (examples: Goodwill, Salvation Army, and many other local stores), clothing collection boxes, Dress For Success, Big Brothers Big Sisters (some take donations, some don't, contact local agency), Soles 4 Souls (shoes), Glass Slipper Project and The Princess Project (for formal/prom dresses), Purple Heart Pickup Service and Clothing (both pick-up services - donations for veterans)

Toiletry Items (shampoo, soap, toothbrush, feminine products, the list goes on, etc.): Women's shelters, Homeless shelters, Children's Homes

Cleaning/Household Supplies: Same as toiletry items. You would be surprised how many shelters ask for cleaning supplies!

Medical Supplies, Diabetes Monitors, Blood Pressure Monitors, etc,: Nursing Homes, free clinics, senior citizen centers, schools, Health Care Ministries, Med Wish International, other health organizations

Toys: Operation Christmas Child, Angel Tree Program, Children's Homes, Shelters, Drop off locations and drives, Toys for Tots, Thrift stores, etc.

Furniture/Household Items: Many of the same organizations listed above.

***You can join The Freecycle Network or Free Sharing to find local needs for just about anything you have to donate!

These are just some ideas to help you out. The point, though, is that almost anything can be donated. So, if you can get something within your budget each week, go ahead and get it so that you can give more away to others! =)

Try searching the internet for local organizations to give to. I know here in Jacksonville, we have so many different shelters, thrift stores, and food banks.

Also, the more money we save, the more we open up funds to be able to give monetarily to organizations worldwide. There is so much need out there, and so many ways to give. Find an organization whose mission statement you are passionate about, and go for it! =)

May you be filled with joy as you begin to discover what a blessing giving can be...

Do you have any stories about how couponing has enabled you to give more to others? If so, feel free to comment below! Or, e-mail me with your story, and I will use it as a guest post on the next Freely Giving Friday!

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