Apr 3, 2014

What About Giving Stuff Away?


 Well pre-growth spurt as here I am about 8 years old (the biggest one, in plaid) and and there are only five of us. We are so well-dressed in this photo, I think it's probable that we were going to church.
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When I was 11 years old, I spontaneously grew out of all of my clothes. In the preteen growth spurt years, I think that's a fairly common happening. However, that didn't help the fact that now I didn't have any clothes that fit, and as the oldest and still biggest of 6 kids at the time, there were no hand-me-downs for me, and with money tight and lots of kids who constantly grew out of their clothes, my parents weren't about to go out and buy me a whole new wardrobe.

It was at that opportune moment that a friend's mom dropped off a bunch of bags of clothes that her daughter had grown out of. Among the huge pile of clothes I received were eleven pairs of jeans that just happened to fit my newly larger body.

Now, let me tell you. I had never owned half that many pairs of jeans. And, if it had been left up to my mom to purchase clothes for 11 year old me, I wouldn't have gone naked...probably after a couple months of squeezing into "flooded" pants, she would have bought me 2 pairs of Walmart jeans. But here, simply given to me, were eleven pairs of not-Walmart jeans. These were brand name jeans. I don't remember the brands anymore, but they were whatever brand names were cool among pre-teens in 2002. Hot stuff.

They were simply given to me. My parents didn't buy them off of my friends' mom. I don't think they'd even asked around to see if anyone had clothes to give away. They were given. And though many years have passed since then, and I'm able to buy my own clothes, I remember when I wasn't, and I remember what I was given.

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That story explains why I'm somewhat uncomfortable with the idea of selling stuff that I own. I can understand selling one's possessions in certain situations. Sometimes, it may be the best thing you can do. Perhaps when you're money-broke but stuff-rich, it may be the only way you can pay your bills or get rid of debt. Maybe for those who spend a lot of money buying something very expensive, and then decide they don't want it, they're uncomfortable with the thought of "losing money" after changing their mind about the item.

I've read about a lot of people who are in our situation, moving overseas, who have a home set up here, but will need to completely start over with a new home, and selling their possessions is a way to raise money to furnish their new home. It makes sense.

And yet, I can't help but feel uncomfortable with totally embracing that strategy in my own life. Yes, I won't need my winter boots where I'm going. Maybe I could consign them or garage sale them and make $7 off them. But I happen to know that my little sister wears the same size shoe as I do and has holes in the soles of her well-worn boots, and, like many a college student working their way through school, doesn't have a lot of cash for "extras" like boots without holes in them. What is $7 to me when I could keep my sister's feet dry?

Angel and I talk about how we're going to get rid of some of our largest possessions. I'm not saying we'll never sell anything, in fact, we probably will end up selling a few things. I don't know anyone who wants our semi-ugly but in great condition couch, so maybe we will list it on CraigsList...the bikes might go on Craigslist too. Angel calls his car "reliable," but it's the kind of car that's best for someone who knows what they're doing and can perform all fix-its himself when it breaks down from time to time. I've told him that I don't want to burden anyone I know and love with that troubled car, so we won't be giving his car to a family member or friend. I'd rather him sell it for a reasonable price to a stranger and be rid of the thing. However, there's also our grill. The grill we searched long and hard for our first summer together, the grill we splurged on because we had big plans for many years of family barbecues. Could we sell it? Probably, it's only 2 years old. But we happen to know a family whose grill has broiled its last hamburger, but they don't have the funds to replace it. I think I know where our grill will be going.

I'm not opposed to making money, though it could probably be argued that I might not be the sharpest when it comes to making a buck. When I see winter coats that I won't be using in the tropics, and a kitchen table that won't fit in my suitcase, I don't automatically see dollar signs. I see opportunities to give the way I've been given to.

So yeah. I could be worried about what Angel and I are going to sleep on when we arrive in our new home and are faced with the prospect of procuring a mattress. And what we're going to eat on when I no longer have my dishes. But, strangely, I'm not worrying about that. Yeah, I'm not making the sharpest deals around here, I'm not selling all the stuff I can't use at a fair market price so that I know I can buy replacements. You won't see a "Shop my Closet" sale on this blog because the clothes that aren't coming with me are headed for the closets of my sisters, cousins, and friends.Worst comes to worst, we'll live without some of the nice possessions we've enjoyed during our years here.

Making money isn't a bad thing. I'll gladly charge you for a head of highlights or a couple hours spent editing your self-published book or for ad space on my blog. The world runs by money, and I understand the need to make a living. But there's something powerful about giving stuff away. And not just the sucky stuff that you couldn't sell if you tried, either. Remember, all those years ago, those weren't Walmart jeans that were given to me. They were the good stuff. I'm sure those jeans could have been sold, that money could have been made. But, instead, they were given to me.

Years later, I remember those jeans when I pack up a box of yet-unopened home appliances and linens that we'll never be able to use to give to relatives who just bought their first home. It's my hope that some of the stuff I'm able to give away blesses others as much as those jeans blessed me.

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When have you been given something that met a need in your life?

Or, when have you been able to meet someone else's need?

I bet almost everyone out there has someone in their life who might be in need right now. I challenge you, one of these days, choose to meet a real need in someone else's life instead of choosing to pad your wallet with a couple extra dollars worth of fun money. I think it'll be more worth it in the long run. After all, someday, a decade from now, there might be someone writing a blog about how she still remembers those old jeans you gave her when she didn't have the money to buy her own.

50 comments:

  1. Awwwuh, Rachel, this is a beautiful post. There really is something powerful about giving something away, I love that so much. There's always the option to sell old clothes or donate them, and I try my best to split them a do a little of both. I know it doesn't make much sense but it makes me feel better that things will be reused either way, some so I can have new things and some so someone else can have new things for free. But as of yet, I haven't had anything "pricy" in my possession that I've felt I need to give away. I know that my old bike we could have sold was instead donated to a kid who was the son of a guy who worked with my dad, and that felt nice to know it would have a better home instead of being sold or dumped in a landfill. :)

    && oh gosh, your comment made me laugh! "...And then Angel." That is sort of how I feel like right now. My parents have pretty much determined that I, too, was going to reflect every attempt a boy made to make more than average contact with me, and I did, too. PLOT TWIST, BRO. You are magic. :)

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  2. I don't ever bother selling my clothes.... I'd much prefer to donate them so that someone that needs them can have them. In fact, I have a HUGE bag of stuff waiting to be taken out for donation. And I need to go through my closet again, eep.

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  3. As the oldest, I remember all my clothes being passed down to my siblings. i do the same now.. and as our youngest grow out of them, we tend to pass them down to friends or family too. We're getting ready to do a big purge in our house this spring. thanks for the reminder to give back. :-)

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  4. this is awesome, you have a very giving heart. But I know to you this is just normal! I also enjoy to give things away. :)

    Right now I'm looking to buy a used bike because my husband's spare bike (from highschool) is still to big for me. (I'm 5ft 6 inches and my husband is 6 ft 2 inches or something crazy like that :P) With the seat all the way down my feet still won't touch the ground.

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  5. A great story. I often end up taking clothes and household items to my local Goodwill. I will be making some trips there soon. I know that they find someone in need or are helping people in need by giving them jobs.

    We have given quite a few things (household) to our neighbour as well. I think they struggle and it makes me happy to help them out as they are such great neighbours.

    bisous
    Suzanne

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  6. I donate 90% of clothing as opposed to selling it (brand names and non alike). But if something was a big money investment for me, I will put it on ebay instead. I think most people need to supplement their income every now and again so I have no qualms about selling things on occasion. xx

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  7. What a great story! My husband and I are in a similar situation right now moving to Florida. We'll be able to keep our dishes, clothes, etc., but the majority of our furniture will go. Fortunately, my brother is in the need for furniture, so Jared and I will be giving it to him. Our apartment is completely furnished right now with hand-me-downs from our family, and it really helped Jared and I out during our first years of marriage. Now we can do the same for my brother.

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  8. Thanks for sharing this! It's such a great reminder! I have given lots of things away to my younger brother for college, first apartment, etc. It feels good and I know how much he appreciates it!

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  9. i love this post and I feel the same way. I give my clothes away because I just know there is some one out there that can use them! such a great reminder.

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  10. Great story! I usually do a little of both. If I'm getting rid of something I think a friend/family member would like, I give it to them. Otherwise, I donate it or sell it.

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  11. very awesome Rachel :) I would get some of my sisters hand me downs but I was fortunate my father would buy me stuff otherwise, my mother wouldn't have been able to. I do donate anything I no longer use because like you say, what's $7? I give my nieces a lot of my clothes and anything else no longer in need my sister ships down to Dominican Republic for family and friends. There'a a lot of materialism in this society and I'm no better than the next but definitely try to only buy what is needed. Great way to be young lady good karma for you! :) Have a great one Rachel! -Iva

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  12. You are so precious in all kinds of ways! I love this post. I have a hard time parting with clothing and it'd be nice to make money off of my pieces if I did, but I have a younger sister following in my foot steps and she loves taking my clothes. So I think it's worth it to see her get excited about my old pieces that are new to her.

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  13. I totally remember things I received from people; clothes, toys.. I specifically remember because it is such a treat for a kid. I grew up in a trailer park. There were a lot of children in my neighbourhood that had it worse than us. Whenever I outgrew toys, my mom would suggest that I find a random kid and give a box of my toys away. One day I saw a little girl walking in front of our house and I gave her my favourite doll house. This dollhouse was a prized possession of mine for yeeeears and it felt really good to just give it away. I bet that little girl remembers too. I also remember giving away a huge box of toys to a girl down the street. She was really excited because it was filled with all of my McDonald's happy meal toys my sister used to bring home for me. (She worked at McD's) AND- when we moved into our house I had a neighbour girl on each side of me. One got all of my barbies and the other got my amazing Polly Pocket collection. OH! And I gave her my desk that I had in my room. I bought her notebooks and stickers and Post-Its.. (Office supplies every 7 year old needs...) So yes, it feels really stinking amazing to just give things away ESPECIALLY to children. They go bananas over things like that. Good on you Rachel and thanks for reminding me of a few fond memories this am.

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  14. Rachel, I adore you!!!

    There have been countless times that I have been given clothes just when needed them most - like after my second miscarriage, when I had outgrown most of my tops. Huge, huge blessings!

    I don't sell my things either. We have so much surplus in this world, and we just need to redistribute it all. I love places like free cycle.org!

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  15. This is so sweet. :) When I was a kid, we received a lot of clothing from friends, too. It always made my day because it was nice stuff and new to ME!

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  16. This is a very nice post. I can see where you are coming from and I would definitely want to give my things to the people that needed them first. But I'm sure you will have some things left that people you know won't need, and then you can sell them on craigslist/garage sale so you do have some starter money for your new life.

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  17. Great post. I work in schools where the students can't afford clothes or coats or shoes or boots, but the tough part is finding a way to get them the things they need in a way that doesn't seem like me "giving them charity", or hurting their parents' pride. We ran a massive city-wide drive and collected thousands of clothing/warm items and set up a big store in our school that parents could browse through after school and on winter break which actually worked really well!

    I wish more people could understand where these families are coming from! I really appreciate your post giving some insight into this!

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  18. I absolutely love this post. I never sell my stuff - I'm not going to sit here and say it's because I'm this benevolent goddess of love and sharing. It's easier for me to give it away to those who need it. I needed that stuff when I was little and we received it from those who cared enough to donate. Why not return the favor?

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  19. Convicting.

    I think something also to think about is to not just donate your crappy stuff. I think so many people have worn out/stained/holey things and then donate them, but then sell their "good" stuff. No one wants or needs worn out and yucky stuff. Be thoughtful with what you are donating!!

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  20. Great post! Unless it is a really expensive purchase, I prefer to give away what I can. I take good care of my things and it makes it easier for me to give away what I can when I know it will still be of use to someone else.

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  21. I love the way you said all of this, and you are so right. I am a regular donate-r, but I sell as well. I like to try to think that when I sell, these people are hopefully getting a great deal and I am getting a little something back on my investment.

    Where are you moving? I've gathered that your upbringing happened in more than once place, but I didn't know another move was coming soon. Sounds like an adventure!

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  22. This is so great! I've been guilty of wanting to make money off of stuff I could give away. But for most of my life, I have given things away to younger girls at church etc. This is my first home to live in away from my parents, but I am sure when we move again, I will have plenty more to give. Thanks for the reminder!

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  23. Growing up, we constantly gave things to Goodwill or the Salvation Army, so the concept makes sense to me - though I love being able to give if I see a direct need (ie extra wedding gifts - how many glasses do we really need?)!

    I sell on occasion when I have the need, but it's so nice to give when we can - how can we not show grace when so much has been shown to us?

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  24. How wonderful! I love the idea of giving things away, it's just a matter of finding people that are in need of them.

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  25. LOVE, love this post! It is a very satisfying feeling to be able to give to other people and agree 100% with your outlook. God will bless you for blessing others!

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  26. I'm not the most generous person, but I really related to this. When it comes to stuff I don't really use anymore (that doesn't have sentimental value), I have no problems with giving it away for free. In fact, I prefer it... there have definitely been times when I could have made a lot of money, but I felt like it was too much of a hassle, one, and you know, I figure someone else who might not be able to afford it may be able to get it for a good price and that's kinda nice to think about! But yeah, I get the whole not being $$$ oriented the same way more people can be. But all money is is energy but you're creating that in a way that sort of goes around that system. What you give will be given unto you, so who cares about a couple of bucks anyway? :)

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  27. I can relate to so many points in this wonderful post. I too received bags of (good!) clothing that a dear friend of my mom's two (slightly older than me, who is the also the eldest child in my family) had outgrown as a child and they helped keep clothing on my back throughout a lot of my childhood (chiefly the eight to twelve year range). I've never forgotten that woman's generosity and have since had times when I've been able to pass on whole bags of my own clothing to friends in need, keeping the beautiful circle of giving going.

    ♥ Jessica

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  28. I loved reading this and getting to know you better first of all and I can relate in the aspect of giving clothes rather than selling them. In 10 years with all the clothes I have given away (about 50 big boxes and counting...) I have only sold a handful of things through Plato's Closet. That's it. It is the giving, nurturing nature in me. Salvation Army has gotten so many things from me, not just clothes. There is always a person more in need. Lately though, living as a family of 3 through one paycheck, things are tough. It is so hard selling used clothes though or even new ones with tags that I own. Idk I'll try.

    But I definitely love the circle of giving and it's about paying it forward.


    P.S. Didn't know you were the oldest of 6 siblings. =)

    Have a great weekend, Rachel. =)

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  29. I love your philosophy! I hate to get rid of things, but when I do, I always want them to go somewhere people will still love them. I'm silly and sentimental like that. Even if I sell something for some nominal price, I'd like to see it be put to goo use afterwards. We actually sold our old van for about $250 last year, and I now I see the lady driving it around town. It was falling apart for us, but obviously she got it running!

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  30. Such a thoughtful and well written post! :)

    I also had a lot of hand-me downs as a child. When I started to get an "allowance" to buy my own clothes on trips with my friends, and later my own money from working, I loved that I could shape what went into my wardrobe. But I've always been a big fan of hand-me-downs. With growing up and losing touch, we don't often know anyone that can benefit from things I no longer wear. My sister and I are no longer the same size, and although we do have a family friend who can fit my clothes, her parents have very strict rules about what she can wear that means some of my wardrobe is not modest enough for her. I donate most things, and try make a few dollars on ebay off the rest :)

    Away From Blue

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  31. "I'm somewhat uncomfortable with the idea of selling stuff that I own."

    ^^^This is yet another reason why we are kindred spirits! I'm actually posting a post on Monday about my recent closet-cleaning episode. (Sniffle, sniffle.) I pains me to let stuff go, but, for the love of God, I am a pack rat to the hilt.

    I've actually never gave stuff away to people I know, however. I tend to give to the Salvation Army, Easter Seals, etc. But one of Scott's second cousins is pregnant -- and is having a boy, so I will be handing over a ton of Scotty's old, but well-loved baby clothes. Still, why am I sad about it?

    Sigh. It's just time to move on.

    Great post!

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  32. Very sweet thoughts and story!! When I was younger I wanted to sell everything. In my later teen years I was around some people that I really respected that taught me the happiness in giving and it really is true happiness. I don't always give away, or have someone to give it to, but try to give as much away as possible. It is such a great feeling.

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  33. I had 3 boys so by the time my youngest grew out of clothes I would bag them up and give them to a younger cousin. Now I just give things to Goodwill when I clean out closets and cupboards. I just don't have time or the patients to have a garage sale!

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  34. Wow Rachel,

    That was a beautiful thought provoking post. I have been on the receiving end and the giving end. I love giving, my kids love giving. I love to give when there is a need.... Giving is the BEST! Bravo.

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  35. This is such a great reminder to give back and pay it forward. I'm the kind of person who doesn't mind giving things away--I actually look for people who can use our stuff. I think it's so important to remember who has helped us along the way and for us to help others who can't afford the nice things that we no longer need.

    The idea about "losing" money is odd for me. I see the money as spent and already lost. Might as well do something good with why'd we bought.

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  36. Love this post, I do give away as well, I love freecycle.org for that exact reason. You are giving away to those who really need it. No middle man involved. Simple, easy.

    ~Zhenya
    http://beingzhenya.com

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  37. This is a beautiful post! I read the book 29 gifts a while ago, and I took it to heart. I 'gave' something to someone else every day. But then I forgot about the book, and got sidetracked by my busy life. So thanks for reminding me to keep on giving.

    Momfever

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  38. Love this post! It brings back so many memories from my childhood. We definitely were in need of help. My grandmother would have to send two huge boxes of clothes every season so that we actually had clothes to wear because my mom and dad couldn't afford it. We spent time at food pantries because there were times that our cabinets were bare. For Thanksgiving, we were one of those families that people donated canned goods to. Sometimes the electricity was out.

    This is why I laugh at people who always talk about how soldiers are making so much money. Officers, maybe, but enlisted soldiers? We were living so far under the poverty line when my dad was a PV2, he literally could have made more money by working at Burger King. My childhood wasn't the easiest, but it definitely wasn't the worst.

    That's why I make it a point to give as often as I can. Truthfully, I don't like donating clothes to GoodWill because there are a lot of people who don't necessarily need the help that shop there. I find women's homes and homeless shelters and donate directly to them. They are so grateful. Especially the women's shelters. Those women leave with NOTHING. Sometimes all they have a the clothes on their back and children. That's where most if not all of Little J's old clothes went.

    It's great that you recognize the importance of giving rather than selling. Someone years from now may have made it through a tough spot because of something that you gave to them. Without even realizing it. How amazing is that?

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  39. this is such a sweet post. I come from a big family and being the youngest, I was always in hand-me-downs. I think it's made me more creative with my clothing in a way - and I can't help but think you too...you have such a fun style!

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  40. I really love this post a lot, Rachel! It is close to my heart. Firstly, I would like to compliment you on having such a fine family! You and your siblings are so lovely and beautiful. All of you looked like you were dressed nicely so the text that came after the picture was a surprise.

    I understand how it feels to be growing up in a family that isn't so well-to-do. I'm the youngest and most of my clothes are hand me downs. I really yearned to have my own clothes at times. When I grew older, I got my own clothes of course. I also remember which are the clothes that I receive from my older cousins or mum's friends' kids. And yes, I have some branded clothing (erm... GUESS is branded right?) coz of these hand me downs and I treasure them a lot when I was in that pre-teen age.

    I have the EXACT sentiments as you when it comes to gifting and selling. I don't usually understand why people actively sell their things to make money as just like you, if I have something new or used lightly or pre-loved and I could find the family, friends, friends' siblings, colleagues to gift them to, I would do so. The last stage would be to cart them off for donation. It also helps that many of my friends and colleagues are like that too! I love it when people are generous in this way and it all comes back to you-- Pay it Forward. Even if it doesn't come back to you as receiving items, it comes back to you in positive emotions and the knowledge that you have found new owners for your items or that your items had benefited the underprivileged.

    As for selling, yes. I've started to understand why people sell their things. Exactly like what you said, some things are just meant for selling to people you don't know just like the car being a burden to people you know.

    This is an excellent post!

    Jo
    Jo's Jumbled Jardinière
    2nd blog giveaway

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  41. i donate a lot of my makeup and products to women's shelters. they will take sanitized, used makeup. i also donate a lot to foster teens. i don't talk about it on the blog, but i do seminars for them to learn about hygiene practices and teen-appropriate makeup.

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  42. "I'm not opposed to making money, though it could probably be argued that I might not be the sharpest when it comes to making a buck." i think what you mean is that your heart is too big to constantly be putting profit first (ie, giving your boots to your sister). might not make the most money, but you'll definitely attract a lot of goodness into your life :)

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  43. I really love reading posts like this. I think that this was a good reminder to help out someone who may be not as fortunate as we are. I love that you still remember the jeans that you were given and I think it helped you be a better person. I give lots of clothing away either to my sister, her nieces or a clothing drive in my neighborhood which is a start.

    Rebecca
    www.winnipegstyle.ca

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  44. We do both: give generously and bless others when we have been blessed. Joel and I both love giving- whether clothing, shoes, household items or giving to supply food and water to those in need.

    However, I do also sell some items that have never been worn, been lightly worn or that I paid more than normal for. I use this money to buffer our new purchases so whatever extra we have can be set aside for other purposes.

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  45. I think it is great that you are giving away all your clothes and some other things to others than can use them! I say I am going to eventually sell things online or whatever, but almost always end up donating it to Goodwill or giving it to someone we know. Part of this is good intentions, part of it is I'm lazy and the effort of making a few dollars is not worth it to me. I think it is especially great to giveaway things like clothes, bedding, furniture, cookware, etc. that people really may need versus things people don't need (e.g., grills, jewelry, Playstations, TVs, lawn furniture). With the "luxury" goods, I think it makes more sense to try to sell and use the money for future purchases.

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  46. Love this post! Strangely as well, even though I'm very hardworking and would want to earn more money for my family, I've never thought of selling my possessions.. instead I'd give them away.. like my old but reliable cellphone -- I loved it but my husband's brother needed one at that time so we gave it to him instead.. Generosity without asking for anything in return is a great thing and comes with it is a great great feeling too! :)

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  47. Stopping by from SITS Sharefest! When I moved from the East to the West coast I gave a lot of stuff away and then found that I was given some great things when I got to my new home...such a blessing to be given things that I had given away!

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  48. It can be a tricky situation! When we left we put everything on display in our flat, and invited friends to come around, say goodbye and take what they wanted. They could donate money if they wanted to, which we used for petrol to get to the airport ;) But we recognised how much we'd been given, we know it's all from God who owns the universe, and decided to trust him that when we get here we'd be taken care of. We've been astounded by how quickly we have everything we need. More than what we need.

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  49. This is such a beautiful post! It is so wonderful that you're looking for ways to bless others with your things. It's good though that you are also considering which items would be better sold than donated. I love donating things to the local goodwill, but I'm sure it means even more donating to someone you know! I was the oldest in the family, so I never had any hand-me-downs but I know those that have. I've always tried to be conscious of donating items rather than throwing them away, and only selling things that are high value or in great condition.

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  50. beautifully written, rachel. the act of simply giving. a great post to read during holy week.

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