Thursday, January 14, 2010

give and take

It seems that once a year, just as the new year begins, CD and I get in a purging mode at the same time.  We start digging out old clothes, old toys, old Stuff and we make huge piles to give away.  Just before Christmas I gave up four bags of outgrown children's clothes and clothes of mine that I thought I should keep because I liked them, but hadn't worn in years.  This January purge then was less clothing and more Stuff.

I looked sadly at the glider and ottoman that I had used many late nights to rock my babies, but I decided it must go.  I began to set aside items of worth and thought I'd sell them on Craig's List.  Umbrella stroller, baby gates, bed rail....  The rest was packed into the car and immediately, the same afternoon, driven to Goodwill.

I wondered how much those items would sell for.  Possibly more than I'd spent on them since they'd almost all been bought used.  And then I looked at them again and decided the lot wouldn't make more than $100 profit.  It wasn't worth the effort.  As part of the International Rescue Committee's efforts we had bought Christmas presents for a child.   I phoned the church member who had organized the IRC gifts and asked where we could make further donations.

It took until today for the momentum to return, but today I drove down to the IRC's offices, ESL classrooms, and their store.  I squeezed past a crowd of men and women, hearing several different languages, and handed off the first load of items.  As I stretched to put two wooden clocks on a shelf, one was gently collected by an excited older man.  He called to his wife and adult son to show them, and it was immediately put in the plastic trash bag he was using to hold their items.  The son helped me empty the car.  The rocker and ottoman would have a good home.  The radio never made it onto any shelves either.  The toy basketball game stayed outdoors with a young mother.

Families from Burma, Sudan, Iraq, Cuba....  They had all left their home countries to have what I have.  Most brought nothing with them.  They would be given assistance for four months.  They were allowed to "shop" weekly from the donations from people like myself.  And then they'd need to have paying jobs and learn to survive on their own.  It made me wish I'd put a new battery in the clock.


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