As you sort through the tubs of neatly organized baby, toddler, and preschool size clothing you wonder what in the world you were thinking. You literally kept everything. and now, as you prepare to move in to a newer home you find yourself again having to go through tubs upon tubs of clothing that has simply been sitting in the upper shelves of closets for the last 11 years. You probably thought that you wanted to give these things to your grandchildren some day, but now as you sift through the items you realize that if you had only kept one of every 15 to 20 of the items that you stored away you would have enough clothes for ten grandchildren.
No matter how sentimental you may be, making local clothing donations makes more sense than keeping all of the items that we shove into storage. Although our intentions may be good, the fact of the matter is much of what we pack up and store in plastic containers with matching lids goes untouched, only to be discarded at a later date. The value of charitable donations is a great benefit to families who are struggling to make ends meet. Three outgrown boys t-shirts, for example, mean the difference between a child wearing a clean or dirty shirt to school some days. For children who have little more than the clothes they have on their backs, the extra items that you have in safe keeping could be put to good use.
Local clothing donations are often quickly distributed. In fact, some schools in many areas of the country need access to a constant supply of clothing and other household items. Families who live on limited incomes sometimes have to make difficult choices between putting food on the table and buying a child a larger pair of shoes. Local clothing donations, in many cases distributed by local schools, help bridge the gap for families in crisis.
Poverty Looks Differently in Different Parts of the Country
A recent documentary by the non-profit group Nebraska Loves Our Public Schools talks about what poverty looks like in that state in Poverty: Not a Choice. Through the story of 11 different students throughout the entire state, interviews with teachers, parents, administrators, and the students themselves explain the challenges of poverty in communities both large and small. Although the midwest may not seem like a part of the country that deals with big city problems, this documentary series shows pictures and videos and records voices of some of the nearly 14% of the state’s residents who are labeled with the title “Hunger and Food Insecurity.”
These and other statistics go to show that even in the heartland of America there are families who are struggling. And while hungry children may not all need clothing donations, families that cannot provide enough food for the table are likely the same families who do not have enough extra cash to purchase warm winter coats.
Local clothing donations, especially when they are done in season, go toward solving some of the problems that people in poverty have. For example, a father with a gently used suit may have more confidence going into an interview for a job that will pay more money. A stylish new shirt, that was rarely even worn before it was donated, may be just the confidence a young teenager has as she sits down to writer her state language assessment in school.
How Much of Your Clothing Do You Donate or Recycle?
Unfortunately, only 15% of America’s used clothing is either donated or recycled. This means that in many cases, fabric that could have been recycled is filling up landfills and clothing that is in really nice condition is sitting in storage tubs could be providing warmth and comfort to needy children and adults. When you realize that the average American throws away as much as 70 pounds of textiles, including clothing each year, you begin to grasp the need for better attention to the need for donating clothing. Currently, textiles account for nearly 5% of municipal waste, because only 15% of them are recycled. A donated piece of clothing, however, is put to much better use.