Help, I've Got Too Much Stuff!

Where and how to donate, sell, and recycle your closet clutter.

Spring is upon us.  I personally will be joyfully pulling off the clear plastic that has been covering my windows since November.  I have been anxiously awaiting spring.  This winter was a harsh one.  I am done wearing my coat every time I leave the house.  My skin is ready for some fresh air!

And of course with spring comes cleaning.  Well, in my world Monday-Sunday comes cleaning.  But spring cleaning is different than your everyday cleaning routine.  It’s a cleansing process.  It’s time to pull out those closet monsters and send them packing.  Out with the clutter, the stuff, the trash, and the boxes full of who-knows-what. 

All of that stuff packed away in closets, attics, garages, etc., is weighing you down.  Yes, even if it’s out of sight, it’s still there and you know it.  Take a moment to take a mental inventory of everything you have stored away. Feel the weight of everything you currently have stored away, think of every closet and what you have piled in it.  Doesn’t it just suck the energy right out of you? 

There’s a million and one articles on spring cleaning with tips and tricks on how to get organized and rid yourself of clutter.  I thought about writing the 1,000,002nd one today but decided I would focus on one area in particular that people seem to have the most trouble with.

People don’t like to throw their stuff away.

When something is thrown out it is instantly categorized as “trash.”

Trash is defined as anything worthless, useless, or discarded— rubbish.  But who’s to say that something is worthless or useless?  Most truly worthless and useless things people have no trouble throwing away, it’s those items that we know (or think) are still of value and could be used one day that are the problem.

When I was a child I used to pull things out of the trash constantly, not because I was poor but because I saw everything as a potential art project.  I would pull out toilet paper rolls, old greeting cards, clothing tags, mail. 

My mom had a great idea; she made me a “trash box.”  It was a cardboard box approximately 10 by 10 inches and I could store anything that I pulled out of the trash in that box.  Sometimes I had to choose what would make it into the box, because obviously not everything would fit.  It was a great compromise to the trash vs. treasure struggle we all face at times. 

If you want it, keep it, but give yourself a small designated area or box that it must be stored in.  And if that area or box fills up – you’ve got to get rid of something else to make room.

Sometimes it’s the memory we don’t want to let go of. 

I found a simple and often effective solution to this.  I recently got rid of an old keychain I had.  It was a digital diary keychain I acquired when I was about 10 years old and there was no point in getting it back up and running.  I held onto it all of this time because I simply enjoyed the memory it gave me. 

It took me back to when I was 10, when I couldn’t stand my brother, when a secret digital diary was the coolest thing in the world.  But nowadays I have zero use for this digital keychain diary so I decided I would take a picture of it and store it in a “memories” folder on my laptop.  I was then able to let go of the gadget quite easily, knowing I now will always be able to access the memory.

Now moving on to those items we really would like to get rid of.  We’ve all heard, “I have all of these ____ [toys, clothes, electronics, chairs, boxes, office supplies, etc.], I just don’t know who to give it to.”  There are so many charities out there, but yet we often don’t even know of the ones in our own backyard.   Here’s a helpful list of just a few Monmouth County charities who gladly accept donations:

1.       Family Resource Association of Monmouth County – Accepts clothing and computers in good working condition.  From their website: “Clothing is reused by others and items are resold to raise money for services we provide. Please consider saving your better items for FRA. Clothing for children and adults are always needed, including shoes, accessories, suits and business clothes, as well as items for the home. No stains, tears, broken zippers, etc. please.”

2.       Big Brothers Big Sisters of Monmouth – Accepts clothing and non-breakable items, bins are located in the parking lot at their Eatontown location.  They are also looking for office supplies.

3.       Epilepsy Foundation of New Jersey – Holds a cell phone drive to raise funds for their foundation.  Cell phones need not to be in working order, they are sent to a recycling company to be refurbished.  Cell phones can be dropped off at their Manasquan location.

4.       Coastal Habitat for Humanity – Collects items to be sold in their ReStore.  All items donated are sold to the general public.  They accept just about anything that goes in a home as long as it is clean and in good working condition.  They do pick-ups or you can drop items off yourself at their Asbury Park store.

5.       Madonna House  – Collects clothing items for women and children to be sold in their Neptune thift store or for direct donation.  Their sole purpose is to serve infants and children who are homeless or whose families are faced with temporary financial difficultly by providing clothing, juvenile furniture, toys, infant formula, diapers, small household items, and other necessary items.

6.       Redeem-Her – Accepts women’s clothing, personal hygiene items, and stationary items. Redeem-Her is an inmate and ex-offender directed, self-help, service organization.  Their thrift store, Second Chances, is located in Neptune.

7.       Bridge of Books Foundation - BoB gladly accepts new and used children's books at their storage facility in Red Bank. They serve preschool through high school children and all types of books are needed-from dictionaries and encyclopedias to nursery rhymes and novels. You can arrange for a pick-up or delivery.

8.       Monmouth County SPCA - The MCSPCA in Eatontown is always in need of supply donations. They are in need towels, blankets, pet dishes, all brands of pet food, and office supplies.

9.       Love Inc.  – Love Inc. runs a gently used furniture store, Furnished with Love, located in Long Branch. They accept donations of furniture for their thrift store and also donate furniture to those in need. They offer a free pick-up service and also a haul off service for items they can’t accept for donation.

10.   The Lupus Foundation of America  – This organization will come to your house to pick up just about anything!  Here is just a very small sample of what they accept for donation: toys, sewing machines, eye glasses, fax machines, books, jewelry, suitcases, telephones, canning jars, clocks, VCR tapes, drapes, yarn, clothing, kitchen utensils, and magazines.  They then sell the items to for-profit wholesale buyers to raise funds to go towards Lupus research and programs for those with Lupus.

11.   United War Veterans Council  – Will come to your house and pick up.  They especially need clothing but also accept shoes, bedding, curtains, houseware, tools, toys, jewelry, and small appliances.

If you’re looking to make a buck off your stored away loot then I recommend Craigslist.  Ebay is often not worth it nowadays, they charge a fee for you to post your item and they then take out a percentage of your total leaving you with little profit.  Craigslist is completely free and you can arrange meetings on your own time.  It’s always good to have someone with you when meeting someone off  Craigslist.

And lastly, if your junk is headed towards the trash, stop and see if it is recyclable first.  Our landfills are overflowing with imperishable trash and we have a swirling pool of plastic in our ocean more than twice the size of Texas weighing more than 3 million tons...and is still growing!  That is reason enough to recycle every piece of plastic you come in contact with. 

If you know of any other local charities looking for donations please share the details below.

Brenda March 28, 2011 at 10:56 AM
Know of anyone who will take old 3 1/2 or 5 1/4 floppy disks? Found a box of them!
Becky March 28, 2011 at 08:51 PM
If you want to make a little money, there are several consignment shops in the area that will sell your unwanted items and you get a percentage of the selling price. I use Cottontails for my children's clothes and toys. There is also Back on the Rack for older teen and women's clothes and they now have a housewares store. I usually try to coordinate my drop off at the consignment shop with a donation pick-up later in the week. That way anything that is not able to be sold I can donate and be rid of all of it in a short time frame.
Debbie May 02, 2012 at 12:53 PM
Thanks for this sharing of information! I am cleaning out my family's home of fifty years...selling it hopefully this season. Don't want it all to be "trash" as some of it could be used by others. The resources listed are perfect. Thanks again.
GladysRose STOLL September 05, 2012 at 03:01 PM
medical items walkers, compodes, wheel chair light, crutches ect.. donation free 732-403-0614 holmdel area/colts neck border very clean excellent condition.
DIANE October 21, 2012 at 03:03 AM


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