Wednesday, December 03, 2008

In Praise of Giving

Now you might think this post will be about the coming season of Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. And you would only be half correct. Yes, this is the season of giving, but my thoughts are directed toward giving in other ways than gift exchanging.

For several years, I have been an active participant in Freecycling. As its website explains, this voluntary network, which now extends all around the world, is made up entirely of " people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills."

I first began Freecycling when I headed into my somewhat involuntary retirement from full time work. I was raring to tackle several projects--including that ever popular CLEAN OUT THE BASEMENT. For fun (?), I began keeping a list of items I have given away. You see--I have only ever offered items on Freecycle--I have never asked for or taken anything. That list has now grown to over 140 items I have given away.

One would think some of the items I have listed would get no takers. But, you'd be surprised how many people want--

  • old sleeping bags

  • coin holders
  • a kerosene heater

  • an electric typewriter

  • old books (I mean OLD)

  • children's battery operated games

  • Penn State mugs

  • stuffed animals

  • no longer working used computers

  • paper doll books

  • a Polaroid camera (!)

  • a non-working leaf blower

  • a non-working electric heater

  • a big Panasonic TV

  • too many paper bags

And the list goes on.

Most touching is when I list something, and the eventual taker overflows with gratitude. I gave the bedspread from the single bed that had been in our daughter's bedroom (now the guest room) to a woman who was decorating her daughter's bedroom. She was THRILLED with the bedspread and matching curtains. And there was the man who took our defunct gas grill, saying he had never HAD a gas grill. There was the woman who took an old manual typewriter saying she wanted to write a novel, and thought the typewriter would provide her with just the inspiration she needed. And one unforgettable recipient was a father who got an old Palm that I had--he wanted it to keep track of his children's diabetic medications.

Just yesterday, I listed a vase I had received as a gift many years ago. I never displayed it anywhere in the house, because it simply didn't match my color or decor style. The woman who took it sent me a thank you note, remarking how beautiful it is and how generous I am.

Well, no, I don't feel generous. I just feel as though this kind of sharing makes sense. Why would I keep "stuff" that is really no longer functional for me, when so many people can use these items and use them gratefully? It takes a bit of time for me to list items, and then pick who will get them. Actually, that is the one time I struggle--sometimes so many people have such incredible need.

I am not alone in my giving. There is one man on the local Freecycle list who gets old computers that no longer work. He then refurbishes them, cobbling systems together out of what he has received. He then loads the rebuilt computers with operating software, and puts them on Freecycle for people who have no computers. I have given him an old computer I had that no longer worked.

What a great feeling--giving just for its own sake. Why not check out the Freecycle group in your area. And get that giving feeling.


Climenheise said...

In Steinbach we have the MCC thrift shop. This sounds like a web extension -- creative, useful, good in so many ways.

Beverly said...

I'm glad to hear about that. I signed up with FreeCycle once, but I didn't stay with it. You perhaps have me thinking about doing it again.

Liza Lee Miller said...

Very cool. You, my dear, ROCK! Of course, my husband is addicted to deals on Craig's list . . . wonder if I should tell him about Freecycle. :)

Jayne said...

Wow. That is the coolest idea ever. One man's trash can indeed be another's treasure.

Dog-geek said...

Great idea! I'll have to look into it!

Ruth said...

What a great idea! I looked it up and Freecycle is active in Ontario too. I donate most of my unwanted things to the MCC but how nice to give something specific to a person who really wants it. I need NOTHING though..

NCmountainwoman said...

What a great idea. We have a church attic we donate to. It's amazing that someone always wants something another person discards.

Elaine said...

I have totally bought into the concept of buy something new, something old has to go out of the house. Amazing how easy finding things to throw out is. I kept an ongoing container for the Diabetes truck which picks up things on my doorstep once a month. And they call to remind me! It's a good thing.

RuthieJ said...

This sounds like a good program, but my hardest thing is deciding when to get rid of something. I haven't been camping for at least 12 years and probably never will again but for some reason I just can't get myself to part with all that camping equipment yet. :-(

JeanMac said...

I had never heard of this group. Brilliant. We have set stuff at the curb with a "free" sign on it - always is taken by someone.