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Get rid of clutter by donating to charity

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THIS WEEK is Get Organized Week, as designated by the National Association of Professional Organizers. In honor of it, here are some resources to help you toward that end.

A big obstacle to getting organized is knowing where to unload the excess. You’ve sorted and purged, kept like things with like, and you’re left with a mountain of things in good condition, but of no use to you — things that can be reused.

Before you donate these things, target the charities with meaning to you. Most of us know someone who has been affected by heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer or another health problem. There are associated charities that raise money for research by selling donated items through thrift stores. It can be very satisfying to put your old things back into circulation for a good cause.

But there are other reasons to “reuse” like this.

“Reuse saves natural resources and reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills,” the Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority states in its Recycle and Reuse Directory. “Reuse is better for the environment than recycling, because recycling requires resources, time and money to process materials into new useable items. Many forms of reuse also help those in need.”

For a free directory, call 800-750-4096 or visit

The Alameda County Waste Management Authority has equivalent guides. For copies of the Alameda County Resource Catalogue or Alameda County Recycling Guide 2002, call 877-786-7927 or visit

Other sources not listed in the directories, but that are helpful, include:

  • The Wireless Foundation, which collects wireless phones to benefit victims of domestic violence. Visit for drop-off locations.
  • Wardrobe for Opportunity provides professional clothing for low-income women. For East Bay drop-off locations, see or call 925-935-2146.
  • The Bay Area Crisis Nursery (925-685-8052, provides temporary housing for children up to 5 years of age whose parents are in crisis, to prevent child neglect and abuse. All children’s clothing, toys and other items are welcome.
  • Contra Costa Times and affiliated newspapers: Freebies can be advertised free for seven days in the papers’ classified ad section.

Two more ideas:

  • Clean-up days: Your trash-disposal company likely offers two extra pickups per year at no extra cost. Call to arrange the date and verify what items can be left on the curb.
  • Garage sales: Get neighbors to join you in a blockwide garage sale. One day — from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. — is sufficient. Let the kids sell drinks and snacks, as well as their own used items. Call ahead to have a charity pick up useful leftovers the next week.
    With the clutter gone, you’ll have not only more room, but more energy to move forward with your life.