I spent a few hours at a donation center this morning, sorting through items collected for Hurricane Harvey victims. I encourage everyone to do the same, and not just because it’s so desperately needed right now. I learned a lot today, about the items that are donated and how, despite good intentions, they aren’t always useful. Volunteering some time at a donation center can teach us all to be better DONATORS in the future because, let’s be honest, this won’t be the last time we have to pull together and help.
First of all, think about packaging. Countless old shopping bags showed up today, filled to the brim and often tearing along the sides. Recycling is great but a plastic or paper bag filled with goods is flimsy doesn’t stack well. Boxed items are easier to pile on a pallet and move around. Think about separating and labeling your donations, as well. Valuable time is spent digging through bags and filtering goods into specific stacks, but boxes filled with soap and labeled SOAP, for example, had an immediate home.
Volunteering at the donation center gave me insight into what NEEDS to be donated, as well. I saw thousands of water bottles and diapers, but some of the donated items had never occurred to me, like adult diapers and baby formula for sensitive tummies. There was a stack of back-to-school items as well, which evacuated kids who are visiting North Texas schools now will definitely need. That hadn’t even crossed my mind.
The enormity of the task at hand really hits home when you start sorting through the donated clothes. See that pile above? It’s a day’s worth of stained, torn or just plain STINKY clothes that were donated but considered not-usable. I even pulled a few pairs of used panties out of the bags (thank God for rubber gloves). Gently worn clothes are OK, but consider donating a cheap pack of undies from Target instead of cleaning out your own underwear drawer.
Let me be clear that I’m not trying to shame anyone. If you’re like me, you’ve never followed your donation bags and boxes past the Salvation Army truck. I always blissfully assumed that my bags of old t-shirts and boxes of bent UNO cards just found a welcomed home. The two hours I spent digging through similar contributions today has taught me otherwise.
If you would like to donate your time to help sorting goods for Hurricane Harvey evacuees, Trusted World has made it very easy for us. They have a SignUp Genius for volunteers, separated into two hour intervals. Click HERE to find that OR if you would simply like to donate funds. And don’t let my little critique stop you from donating anything you think could be useful. The reality is that EVERYTHING IS NEEDED right now. So load up those boxes and even those flimsy shopping bags…but maybe send a few more rubber gloves.