In these tough economic days, it can be more difficult to give. I recently wrote an article for The Christian Homekeeper called "Cheerful Giving." You can read it here .
I have been thinking through all that can be given to others even if the giver has little or no extra money outside normal tithing/giving to the church. I know that there will be some I list that won't work for each person but perhaps something can be found in the list that will work. Please comment and add to my list if you think of something I didn't mention!
I first thought about what is in my own house (This is Part 1). The popularity of blog posts concerning "How to Declutter Your House" demonstrates that most, if not all, of us have stuff in our house that could go to someone who needs it.
Clothing, Shoes, Coats, Boot, Hats, Mittens: It's great to give to the Salvation Army or Goodwill, but people still have to pay for those items. Many cannot afford to shop in those places. So, first call around to your church, town/city hall, homeless shelters, After School programs and see if there are people or an organization that can use the items you have to give. If you live in Maine, add "The Root Cellar" to that list of calls.
If you have teenagers, sometimes they have been known to not wear certain clothing items for various reasons. Giving them to someone who needs them more than we do really helps me to not feel annoyed that they were not worn! ;)
Furnishing, Furniture, Lamps, Decor, and other Household Items: Calling around to Town/City hall or asking your pastor or watching the news may reveal someone who has suffered a house fire and needs to furnish a home with no resources.
Books, Homeschool Curriculum, Bibles: You can email or contact the homeschoolers in your church to see if anyone can use the books you no longer need. Or contact local homeschool support groups. You could donate them to your library but check first to make sure they need them and will keep them. There is also a great organization that gives free curriculum to needy families called The Book Samaritan . They accept donations of books. For Bibles, give spare Bibles to NonChristian friends and family or donate them to Bible Senders .
Support a Yard Sale: Another idea for those items you are desperately decluttering is to find someone who is having a yard sale and donate the items to their yard sale. You might find someone having a yard sale because they need the income or because they are raising money for a missions trip, to adopt a child, or for another worthy cause.
Have the Yard Sale Yourself: You could have the yard sale yourself and donate the money to a worthy cause or a family in need.
Recyclables: In Maine you can get $.05 when you return a bottle or aluminum can. Save those and when you have enough to turn in, donate that money. Every little bit adds up! Or, save them until someone is doing a bottle drive for a worthy cause and donate your bags of returnables. I always rinse mine so I am not donating a smelly, sticky, ant-attracting mess. Perhaps in your state you can return other items for cash like aluminum. You could do the same with that.
Loose Change: Save that loose change for donation. Our local Pregnancy Resource Center does a yearly fund raiser where people can fill up baby bottles with loose change and donate them. Or roll that money yearly to donate to a worthy cause.
Food Donations: Even if you can't afford to buy extra food you can find ways to make it affordable. Whenever you see a "buy one get one free" sale then buy one and donate the free one. Or combine coupons with sales to get an item for very little money. If you can afford $1.00 per pay period then buy something that costs $1.00 like a can of spaghetti sauce. The next pay period by a $1.00 box of spaghetti and you have a meal to donate to your local food closet. Or save that food and cook it up when you know someone needs a meal.
The Craft Stash: Many of us have a stash of cloth or yarn or other craft items that deep in our hearts we know we will never get around to using. Or even if we think we will, if we thought about it we would have to admit that it is not "precious" to us and could be sacrificed. Ask around or call around and find people or organizations who would take that stuff and put it to good use to make things for the needy. Or you might find someone who sells crafts and uses the money for a worthy cause.
Secondly, I thought of things I can do for others. This will be Part 2 and I'll share it tomorrow. :)