Spring cleaning

I’m sure even the total strangers standing before me could see the shock written all over my face. They had just said that everything left over from their week-long yard sale would go to the curb. I know, many times the leftovers do warrant that solution, but not at this sale. Crisp new books on crafts and religion, novels, unopened packages of pretty notions for crafts and unstained bedding had not found a new home.

“If you really don’t want them, these religious books could go to Love Packages in Butler, Ill. We collect books to take to them a two or three times a year.”

The yard sale proprietor shrugged and motioned, “help yourself.” I began picking out the Christian literature.

They began stuffing items into big black garbage bags to put on the curb.

I finally managed to gasp out, “But you could take them to Goodwill or the St. Agnes Thrift store.”

“I don’t want to haul this stuff anywhere else. I am tired of it.”

“Salvation Army and the Recovery in Christ Thrift Store will pick up.”

“Okay, I could do that.”

I relaxed and continued sorting books. I noticed a couple pillowcases in very good condition, “I could take these to College Avenue Church of Christ. They make pillowcase dresses for little girls in third world countries.”


I stuffed them into my car. As I turned around, I heard the folks again talking about having someone come and haul it all off to the dump or somewhere, to just get rid of it.

“Hmmm. This morning I read on the Union County Yard Sale Facebook page a request for items for a Relay for Life garage sale. You could call them and they would take it away.”

I know I was rather insistent, but they really did have good stuff that just had not found a home.

They thought about it a minute, but weariness won, “This is all going to be gone in a couple hours. I do not want to fuss with it anymore. I have been dealing with it all week.”

“Give me a minute. I wrote their note the number down this morning. I planned to call them myself after I had time to gather unwanted stuff at my house.”

“Okay. But, if they come and this trailer is gone, the stuff is gone.”

Scrambling quickly to find the slip of paper with the phone number, I dug through the excess I had loaded in my car to be re-cycled rather than sent to the refuse heap.

A woman answered on the second ring. I explained that if they wanted some nice items for their Relay for Life yard sale, they would need to come to this house right away.

A couple phone calls later, we had a truck coming to gather the items for the sale. The man wasn’t that far away. Before I left, I was able to connect the two: those needing yard sale items, those very tired of their yard sale items. I hope the Relay for Life yard sale shoppers find what they want at the sale.

My anxiety at seeing good items tossed rather than re-cycled dissipated, but my concern remains. Spring is here. The urge to clean up, clear out and get rid of all those items you no longer want or need is strong.

If at all possible, do not add to the county landfill. Take the time to stop and recycle. Rinse out the milk jugs, wad up all those flimsy plastic bags, bundle up the newspapers and take it all to the recycling bins at Brookshires. Before you say, “I don’t want it, so therefore no one wants it,” take the clothes to one of the many area thrift stores. Even if they can not sell the clothes, many have contracts with organizations that buy bales of compressed clothes, linens and other fabric. That game or book that your kids looked at once, can be re-sold to a family that may not be able to afford it new, but would love to have the chance at ‘almost new.”

Spring cleaning does not have to mean a curb lined with black garbage bags. Make the call, not the haul to the curb. Connect your unwanted, but still decent items with a thrift store or organization that can use them. Be kind to the earth during this year’s spring cleaning.