August 20, 2014

Elyria
Rain
69°F
test

By cutting some clutter, you can help others

Do you ever get the feeling that your closet is shrinking?

Last year, it was at least twice as big. And now you can barely shut the door.

AREA GOODWILLS

  • IN AVON: 825 Center Road
  • IN ELYRIA: 502 N. Abbe Road
  • IN LORAIN: 1996 Cooper Foster Park Road West
  • IN VERMILION: 4743 Liberty Ave.

Well, rest assured that your closet is not shrinking. It`s just filling up with clothes that you seldom – if ever – wear.

Those pants that somehow shrunk on the way home from the store, that dress that you wore exactly once, the sweater from Aunt Millie that looks like it might be a size too big for LeBron James. They`re all just hanging in your closet, taking up space and not doing anyone any good.

“So many of our closets are filled with things we just don`t or won`t wear,” said Barbara Myers, who has worked as a professional organizer outside of Columbus since 2001. She estimates that people wear less than 70 percent of the clothes in their closets. That means that one out of every three articles in our closets is just languishing.

And with the holidays approaching, there is no doubt that somehow you`ll have to squeeze even more room out of that closet.

Robert Rees, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Lorain County, has a solution.

“People are always telling me that they don`t know how to help the community,” he said.

The answer, he said, is right inside their closets. Rees estimates that more than $2 million was funneled into Lorain County last year from the sale of closet clutter at Goodwill stores, and this year it could be even more.

“This is ‘created` money, plain and simple,” he said. “It`s coming from stuff that was just going to waste in peoples homes.”

Like alchemy, Goodwill offers a way to turn this mess into money.

“All of the money that the Goodwill stores make stays right here in Lorain County,” Rees said. “It helps the homeless, veterans, the welfare population. It helps teach these people to find and keep jobs.

“It gives people a hand-up, not a hand-out,” he said.

And cleaning the closet doesn`t only help those in need. It could save you money – through tax write-offs – and some of that always-precious closet space.

“Deciding to donate the clothes you don`t wear is a great way to free your closet of some of that clutter,” Myers said. She recommends keeping a box on the floor in your closet. “Anytime you take something out and then decide not to wear it for whatever reason, you should throw it in the box,” she said. This way, after a few months, you`ll have a ready-made donation box.

MORE PLACES
TO GIVE

Salvation Army
Thrift Store
167 Cleveland St., Elyria
Donate: Any small- or medium-sized items such as clothes, purses, shoes, household goods; items like refrigerators and stoves are not accepted
Strangest donation: A box of kittens

Other Salvation Army offices:

  • Elyria
  • 716 Broad St.
  • Lorain
  • 2506 Broadway
  • Wellington
  • 181 E. Herrick Ave.

Genesis House
Lorain; Call 323-3400 to set up donation place and time
Donate: Newer clothes, food, toiletries and hygiene items
Strangest (and best) donation: A car

Second Harvest Food Bank
7445 Deer Trail Lane, Lorain
Donate: Food, funds and services

Haven Center
1536 E. 30th St., Lorain
Donate: Food, clothing, toiletries and hygiene items

Myers also suggests following a “one-year rule.”

“If you don`t wear something for 12 months, you might as well get rid of it,” she said. “Chances are you will never wear it again.”

And for the clothes you get for the holidays, Myers offers another simple rule: “One in, one out.”

Got a new shirt? Great. Get rid of an old one.

“The holidays are a big time for Goodwill,” Rees said. “We get a lot of clothes, which is great because clothes are always big sellers.”

Old jackets, boots, jeans and especially children`s clothes can all help channel money into Lorain County.

But clothes aren`t the only options: books, small appliances, furniture – Goodwill will take almost anything.

In fact, in his 22 years at Goodwill, Rees has seen some pretty interesting donations: boats, trailers, cars, motorcycles, a house. Even 50 baby geese.

“People are always finding things to give to Goodwill,” he said. “Even if they can`t use it anymore, we can almost guarantee that there is someone who wants it. It always feels good to give.”

And it could even save you some money.

“Anything you bring in is tax-deductible,” Rees said. “We give you an itemized receipt that you can use to save on your taxes.”

Save money, save time, help the economy – all thanks to that mess in your closet.

Contact Michael Baker at 371-9325 or mbaker@chroniclet.com.