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We're Picky . . . and for good reason!

My office faces the front and side of our building so I can traffic coming and going. About once a week, a pick-up (sometimes pulling a trailer), drives confidently by my window and heads toward the donation area in back. The pickup bed or trailer is loaded down with discarded furniture and an assortment of boxes and black trash bags. The drivers are on a mission to rid themselves of years of clutter from their garage, shed or storage unit and they’ve chosen us as the lucky recipient.

Here’s a sample of what the donor wants to give us: At least one large chunky television, two matching, upholstered dining chairs with years of greasy dirt ground into every fiber, two unmatched dining chairs that “just need to be glued back together,” and an old loveseat with several patches of matted cat hair. Strewn around the trailer are black plastic bags stuffed full of clothes that smell of dusty mold and a few boxes of random kitchen utensils, mostly bent and rusty from being in storage. There are bags of shoes, some with no matches, others with no shoe strings or torn Velcro fasteners. True story.

While the volunteers are trying to explain to the donor why we can’t accept these items, the Operations Manager is nearby on the phone with another donor. He has a really, super nice sofa he needs us to pick up. Today. Before 4:00. She explains that we only pickup on certain days since we must pay helpers to do that. We don’t have moving staff. “Can you tell me a little about the sofa,” she asks. “It’s in pretty good shape,” he says. “There were some rips but we covered them with duct tape. One of your welfare people will love it.” he tells her. “I’m sorry, but we wouldn’t give something like that to a client and we can’t sell it, so we would have to haul it to the dump,” she explains. “Well, what am I supposed to do with it then? I need it out of here this afternoon!” he demands. She has no words. Real phone call.

We’re picky about what we accept – for good reason.

If you could see the look on a mother’s face when she finds a pair of gently used athletic shoes for her son or hear the joy in a little girl’s giggle when she twirls around in her new dress or witness the grateful relief of when a father finally finds a pair of decent work boots, you’d understand.

Just imagine how a shelter resident feels when she serves her children their first meal in their new apartment. Thanks to your thoughtful donations, the children sit around a sturdy dining table that will be their gathering place for years to come. Later, they’ll snuggle with their mom on a clean, comfy sofa until it’s time for bed. In the little girl’s room is a pretty pink dresser restored and painted by one of the volunteers. It makes her feel special. Every little girl needs to feel special.

Our little Resale Shop is pretty amazing. So far this year, it has helped pay for two additional, much needed advocates at the Ada Carey Shelter plus several other overhead expenses. We’ve issued over $14,000 in free gift cards to clients who qualify for clothing assistance and have supplied countless starter kits to shelter residents for new households, all clean and all functional.

If you could only see what dignity restored looks like – you’d be just as picky as we are.

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