Dear Boston Mamas: 8 Ways to Declutter for Good

womens-lunch-place.jpgToday's Dear Boston Mamas query comes from new reader Amy via e-mail:

Hi Christine, I recently discovered your site and love it! It's super helpful for a working mother of a 6-year-old and 3-year-old. I find it refreshing, very well-written and with a great dose of humor. One question: I was inspired to clean out the junk. In doing so I've been able to give a lot to consignment (I love Growing Up and Revolve in Belmont) however, I have a lot of gently used toys, women's clothing and household items that I would like to go to charities who give these items away to the needy for free. Can you suggest and organizations? Perhaps Cradles to Crayons for the children's items? Any ideas for the adult items?

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Hi Amy,

Thank you for your kind and generous comments -- they truly made my day! And I'm so glad you've been inspired to declutter. This is something I work on regularly and almost always do so to benefit charities. Here are eight ways to declutter for good:

1. The Women's Lunch Place does wonderful work for women in need. Though they no longer accept clothing donations, they need toiletries, office supplies, craft materials, and gift items. One year I co-hosted a function where we collected tons of travel toiletries for Women's Lunch Place; a great way to put all of those little hotel toiletries to good use while cleaning out your cosmetics drawer!

2. Room to Grow serves babies/toddlers up to three years in age. If you have an Isis Parenting near you, give them a ring to confirm that they have an active collection drop for Room to Grow (they usually do).

3. You mentioned Cradles to Crayons, which is an organization that serves poor and homeless children from Massachusetts. This is a great place to donate items for older kids too, as they serve the infancy to age 12 demographic.

4. Horizons for Homeless Children is another wonderful local organization; they have a need for toys, books, and art supplies, as well as used electronic supplies and gadgets.

5. I recently donated four huge boxes of clothing (men, women, kids), toys, books, and kitchen goods via the nationwide charity coordination service Donation Town. Simply plug in your zip code, choose your charity, and you can schedule a free pickup. In my opinion, this is an especially good option when you have a large quantity to donate (so it's worth the driver's effort!).

6. Every now and then I purge books and DVDs to donate to our local library; it's a nice way to keep donations hyper local. Libraries can either use these items in their collection, or some libraries have book sales/stores, where the proceeds benefit the library.

7. Also in the hyper local vein, check with your town or school PTO about in-town donations for families in need. We have an organization in my town that organizes pick-up events for families in need (during their spring drive I donated baby gear and felt so good about moving those items forward in the world to someone who needed them). And actually, when Hurricane Sandy hit, our town coordinated in-town drop off stations so families could donate to the relief efforts.

8. Finally, an easy way to share with those in need is via those big donation drop boxes (e.g., Red Cross) you'll see in the parking lots of businesses or on the side of buildings.

Thanks again for writing in Amy, and I hope these ideas are helpful!

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Have a question for Christine or the Boston Mamas writing team? Drop Christine a line! And of course feel free to comment in if you have recommendations beyond those made above.

Image credit: Women's Lunch Place