Today was donation day for our household and we donated to three different places. Two places left us with a warm glow, the third… not so much.
We are great believers in donating items that are still useable. A hoarder at heart, I almost never throw anything away in case it can be reused down the track and I hate to see other items go to waste, so if they are still in good condition they go to the appropriate donation venue rather than in the bin.
Over the weekend my wife spent many hours sorting through the old toys, books and clothing of our kids, then last night I helped her split the items we decided to donate into three different groups.
The first lot – a huge crate of old toys that still worked (we even replaced the batteries in some) to take to The Green Shed at our local tip. I get a lot of stuff at The Green Shed for gardening and they always charge next to nothing. Some things like mulch you can even get for free! So it felt good to give something back for them to sell. As I am there at least twice a week dumping garbage (no bin service on our remote farm) my face is known to them. They were very appreciative and stopped to have a nice chat afterwards about the use I am putting all the pots they sold me a week before to.
The second lot – a big bag of books. These were all in excellent condition and aimed at 3 to 5 year olds. However since our kids are ravenous readers (or at least love being read to) they have enough books to fill their own library and could easily part with these particular ones they never show interest in anymore. We donated these to my kids Preschool. My son was very proud handing them over to the lady that runs the place, who made a big deal of it and even got him to help apply stickers saying who had donated them. Once again, it was a nice feeling.
Then it was time for my daughter and I to do our third and final stop – this time to a Vinnies. These guys were getting the bulk of the items; a ton of books for 1 to 3 year olds, a ton of toys and six bags of clothing. All in great condition.
My daughter and I took the six bags in first. Gave the lady behind the counter a smile which was absently returned as I informed her we had a bunch to donate. She replied ‘just put them on the floor’.
We put them down, went back to the ute then returned with the huge box of books and toys. She saw us walking back in but didn’t even wait for us to sit it down or take an interest in what it was. As we approached her counter she just wandered off to another part of the deserted shop and started sorting dresses on a rack. My 3 year old daughter even said “Hey. Where’s that lady going?”
It left us feeling cold to be honest, like us donating this stuff was of no consequence. Now bear in mind, in no way was I expecting some kind of fanfare or to be treated like the prince of altruism for simply donating some kid’s stuff that were no longer needed. Thousands of people do that every day and it’s a shame even more don’t. And for all I know we were not even the first people that day to bring in donations.
But it was the lack of interest that got me. And to be honest, it felt a little hurtful as the items we were donating meant something to us. Those books, toys and clothing – each one was doused in memories. We probably have photos of our kids doing different activities in almost every outfit. The books – many of those books we read to our children a thousand times before bed, them cuddled in our laps. The toys came from many places; gifts from friends and relatives – some of whom are no longer with us. Some we watched our kids unwrap with excitement on Xmas mornings. But you can’t keep every single thing as a keepsake or soon you will need another house, plus it’s better for a child in need to get some use out of them then for them to sit in a box in the shed.
So yes, the items meant something to us. And we were not just dumping rubbish like some people sadly do. Every book was unripped, every toy cleaned with working batteries, every item of clothing washed and neatly folded. So even an ‘oh thanks’ would have been appreciated. But no, not a thank you for the clothing and didn’t even bother to stick around to acknowledge receiving the books and toys. I know that the whole purpose of these donations are for them to go to people more needy than ourselves, not to receive kudos, but some small sign to show she registered on some level what we were doing would have been nice. I don’t think she was a bad woman by any means, in fact she is probably a very nice person who was performing the 500th day in a row of donating her time and just happened to have other things on her mind at that particular moment (you can’t expect people to be infallible), but still.
Will this put me off donating further goods? No way! Both The Green Shed and The Preschool were very gracious and these items are going to people in need which is the main purpose of the whole exercise. But there are two thrift stores in the town I took my goods to and next time I will take unwanted clothing to the other one.
Everyone likes to be thanked.
Got something to add? Would love to read it in the comments section below!