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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Share Your Stockpile

Now that you know how to spend less and get more, how can you use your new found skills to bless others?

The Salvation Army is an easy one--and usually there is a branch in just about every major (or even minor!) city. Just give them a call. They are thrilled when I drop off bags of cereal and pasta (for example--those are 2 items I can get for very cheap or free and have plenty of).

Another idea is to call your local homeless shelter. One year my then 3-year-old daughter H said she wanted to share her birthday cupcakes with some of the poor. I politely shooed away her idea, saying that probably wouldn't be possible, but that it was a nice thought. But God wouldn't let me let it go--he kept it on my heart! So I pulled out the phone book and gave them a call. I told them we had some homemade cupcakes from my daughter's birthday that she wanted to share and we had an extra dozen--could we drop them off to brighten someone's day? She said we sure could, so H and I drove right down and delivered some cupcakes. It was a humbling learning experience for me. It doesn't hurt to ask!

Last year I helped gather toothpaste and toothbrushes to send to Lima, Peru with a missionary I have contact with. She had a goal of 1500 toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste, and I was thrilled that I was able to help. A few friends helped, too, and I mailed off a box FULL of about 100 toothbrushes and 4 oz. tubes of toothpaste!

You can also share some of your stockpile with friends and family. There have been many times I've given away boxes of cereal, bottles of mouthwash, tubes of toothpaste, tubs of wipes, and other items to friends and family members because we have more than we need.

A lot of grocery stores have drop boxes for local food pantries. This is an easy way to donate some items so you don't even have to make a special trip!

Several churches are willing to take donations, too. Church nurseries and preschools welcome donations of diapers, wipes, crackers, Cheerios, and other items. Our church also collects individually wrapped candy to hand out to kids at Awana or special events.

Every year our family likes to put together shoeboxes for children for Christmas. We do some for Operation Christmas Child and donate some locally. Stock up on school supplies, wipes, socks, small toys, soap bars, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and other items throughout the year when they are on sale. Set aside an area (like the top of the closet) with some bags that you can fill throughout the year with small items. Once it's time to assemble the boxes, you'll be surprised at how much stuff you already have to fill them!

Toys for Tots is another easy Christmas idea. Watch the off-season sales for toys or games and then save them in your special donation area to donate later.

What other ideas do you have? Please leave a comment!

By this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' Acts 20:35


cookiesandmilk said...

My family and I just donated our used shoes to soles4souls. I also try to regularly donate/shop goodwill and donate children/women's items (free tampax) to women's shelters.
Food is something that I also try to donate when I have extra or can get an item for cheap or free in addition to any money I can spare. (It seems like I can give more this way than I can in actual cash)

kat said...

wow the shoe box idea is awesome i will have to talk to my church about that. we have an outreach in our community for adults and their families who have fallen on hard times and something like the shoe boxes would be great for adults as well as children. thank you so much for the idea. my kids are young and i was looking for a way to introduce them to helping others and this is one great way

Sara said...

In theory, we try to give away toys every time the kids get something new. In practice, we end up waiting until a bit after the "new" toy isn't so new and then bring it up. We're finding that we actually find more toys that way (when the kids are less selfish and into this is "mine"). We've given them to Goodwill, but also have a local charity called "Christians in Action."

I love the idea of stocking up throughout the year for things. We do that with birthday gifts for others, too (though that's not as gracious as the Christmas Child boxes, but it does save us money). We just always scan the clearance toys at stores and get things if they're really on sale. I have a box of stuff like that up in my closet so the boys have no illusions that it's for them!

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