Lots of people tend to give more during the holidays than at any other time of year. But both people and pets need your help year round. So this January, when giving tends to be at its lowest, think of donating items you no longer use. If you got lots of clothes during the holidays, clear out a few of your older clothes and donate those. If you got new sheets and bedspread, think of donating the older ones. If you got new pet toys and pet beds, donating those are a great idea. There are so many things we can give to others who need it at a time when a lot of people don’t think of doing so.
So, where do you take the items you’d like to donate? If you have canned food, maybe that fruit cake no one wants, you can take those items directly to your local food bank. They are always in need of unexpired items. Donating cash to local food banks is always helpful, as well, as is donating items such as toiletries and can openers. And there are lots of people who couldn’t live without the help of food banks who have pets, so donating pet food and supplies can be tremendously helpful (please don’t judge … we don’t know the history of how people ended up needing help, and pets are often invaluable mates to those in need – these pets are also well cared for, and the first to eat, even if that means the human goes without food).
How about clothes, coats and bedding? You can take all of these to local human shelters, Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc. You also can find clothes donation bins in some parking lots. These bins usually aren’t associated with thrift stores (there are some exceptions). If the name of the donation bin is not a familiar one to you or if it’s not associated with a thrift shop, then they are often not associated with any type of charity.
And, of course, if you have used pet toys, collars, leashes, beds, pet clothing, etc., you can take these directly to your local animal shelter or rescue. A few notes on a couple of items: please don’t donate used litter boxes (or at least call the rescue first). Litter boxes carry germs. Sometimes kitties can carry germs, like with a cold, and not actually come down with it. Those germs get in the litter box and taken to the shelter. If that litter box gets used in a shelter, even after it’s cleaned, another kitty could loosen debris and germs stuck in the scratches on the bottom of the litter box. And kitties in shelters tend to be stressed out and more susceptible to illness. So voila, kitty in shelter gets a cold and now has a hard time finding a home because people are less likely to adopt a sick kitty. Also, with any items, call your local animal shelter to make sure they can actually use the items. If not, you can try donating these items to thrift stores, at local human shelters, and at a local food bank.
Also, with any donation, if it’s something you wouldn’t use, maybe its not worth donating. By that, I don’t mean that if you got a really ugly blanket for Christmas that you shouldn’t donate it; by all means do. What I mean by that is if that really ugly blanket you got for Christmas was supposed to replace the blanket that’s so worn out, falling apart, that you can’t use it anymore, then maybe it’s time to head to the trash or recycle bin with it instead of to the donation bin.
Anyway, maybe you could try to donate one thing this January, whether it’s leftover Denny’s you hand to the homeless kid you often see on the street corner asking for money, or a can of beans you take to the local food bank, or a brand new cat bed you take to the local animal shelter. Remember that it’s often the little things that count, that mean the most to those in need. You don’t have to give a dog bed to every dog in the shelter, but if you give one to the dog that’s been there a while or to the senior doggy, they will be truly grateful; you will have made a direct difference in someone else’s life.