Posts Tagged ‘giving’

Small Potatoes

March 31, 2013

Don’t let the little things get overlooked. Too many times something seems so insignificant that you don’t even give it a second thought. Unfortunately, these overlooked things are actually missed opportunities in disguise. What do we do with our daily “small potatoes”?

Lowly coins:
It’s inevitable: You find a stray penny on your living room rug, or a dime in your coat pocket, or even a quarter on the sidewalk — small little coins that don’t have much value all by themselves. Do you just throw them someplace, or ignore them and forget about them? A better idea is to have a small jar designated for all loose change you find. For you germ-phobes out there, hand sanitizer is a wonderful thing. When there are enough coins for a small handful, give the money to a child who may not have anything to give for the church offering plate.

Old, Battered Clothing:
If you are not handy with a sewing machine you can cut the old clothes into rags and donate them to your church for cleaning rags. If you ARE handy with a sewing machine, cut the good parts of the clothing into similar sized squares, sew the squares into strips, and sew the strips together to make a strip-quilt. Be sure to include pockets and graphic designs; it makes the quilt more unique. When you are finished batting and backing the quilt, donate it to a homeless person or your local homeless shelter.

Bread Ends:
DO NOT USE MOLDY BREAD! Many birds love bread. Break the bread (preferably stale) into pieces and leave them out for the birds to eat. Good places include rooftops, shed tops, outer window sills, building ledges, etc.

Meat & Cheese Ends:
You get a lot of this if you own a deli: The last ends of meat and cheese slabs which cannot be put through the food slicer (because your hands will get too close to the blade).  Instead of tossing the food, give it to people in need: Collect the ends in a refrigerator (separating meat from cheese), and every couple of days donate the ends to your local food pantry or soup kitchen. In some urban areas, you can even just hand them out the back door to those in need.

Container Redemption:
In the United States we can redeem our disposable beverage containers for a few cents each. I don’t know if this also occurs in other countries. Instead of just tossing your containers in a recycling bin (which redeems no money), take it to your local redemption center. After receiving the money for them, donate the money to a local charity, shelter, church, or other worthy cause.
CAVEAT: In some neighborhoods the poor scavenge through recycling bins to find containers they can redeem money for. If you can afford to live without your own container redemptions in these neighborhoods, leave your containers in the recycling bins for the poor to glean.

Litter:
We all see it: Bits of trash and garbage along the roadside, in public parks, marring the scenery. I know of  a zoo which figured out how to eliminate this problem: The cost of admission was a piece of litter. Of course, the lawn in front of the admissions office was spotless, so patrons had to find other litter to “donate” in order to get in with their children. This kept the outer zoo grounds immaculate, as well as a perimeter of several hundred yards. Unconventional? Yes. Environmentally friendly? You betcha!  AND…. because the cost of admission was basically free, they enjoyed a booming business of visitors. Take a cue from this: If you own a business, tweak this experience to cater to your business (if you can) so that you can be “green” and enjoy an influx of increased customers.

Leftover Paint:
You’ve repainted something in your home: The exterior, the inner rooms, window frames, etc. And, inevitably, you are stuck with leftover paint that you have no use for. There are three things you can do that come to mind: First, call your local Habitat For Humanity chapter to see if they can put the paint to use (since they build homes for the poor). If they don’t need it, then ask your neighbors if they know of anyone who can use the paint. AND, if THAT doesn’t work, then call your local freelance painters and see if they could use the surplus.

Leftover Food:
It happens to all of us: You attend a reception or party in which guests are allowed to take home any leftover foods. But you either don’t want it, or don’t have room for it in your refrigerator or cupboards, so you decline. Instead, you should do this: Think of someone you know who may be struggling financially, and tell the host that, if there is STILL any leftovers after all the other guests have taken their shares, then you want the remainder. Then, give the food to the one(s) who are having the financial difficulties.

Old Clothing In Good Shape:
I know this seems like an obvious answer, but in many cases the obvious stuff is missed, so we have to put this here: If you find yourself with a load of clothes that are still in good repair, donate them. Clothing can be donated to your family members, neighbors, nursing homes, charity organizations, disaster relief organizations, homeless people, and church rummage sales. Just call ahead first to be sure the donation will be accepted.

School Supplies:
Your son or daughter has finally finished school…. but there are still leftover pens, pencils, paper, calculators, backpacks, etc.  If the items are still in usable condition try donating them to your local school district. School budgets are tight these days, and so is the economy for parents trying to make ends meet. This could be the needed solution to a budget gap.

Of course, this isn’t a comprehensive listing, but I’m sure you get the point: Don’t just automatically put something in the trash without giving a first thought about what else can be done with it. Granted, some items are simply beyond hope, but you will be surprised to find that many “junk” items can actually be useful to someone else.

Just a little something to consider.

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