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Give & Take: There’s More to Spring Cleaning Than a Drop-off at a Secondhand Store

Brian Janson  Follow

What comes to mind when you think about spring cleaning? Most people likely picture a deep raid into their closet, tossing their old, unworn clothes into a giant plastic big, and then dropping that off at either a Goodwill store or The Salvation Army. Personally, when I think of spring cleaning, I can’t help but experience flashbacks of wasting an entire weekend hauling bulk trash (and everything my father deemed unworthy of keeping in the garage) to the side of the road for pickup—eschewing the donation approach entirely. 

But Spring Cleaning can be much more than that, and the season can serve as a catalyst to become more involved in your local community, adding more of a personal touch to this giving back initiative. With that in mind, my colleagues at Prosek and I thought it might be helpful to put together a guide of other initiatives, such as volunteering, that folks can keep in mind when thinking about alternative ways to leverage the spring cleaning season. 

How You Can Help Assuage the Daunting Impact of Spring-Cleaning Donations

If we take a step back and think about that misconception that spring cleaning is just about donating various unwanted items from your home, we can consider the issues that can cause for secondhand stores. Think about it: with everyone having the same idea to drop their items off now, how can these stores handle a sudden and extreme increase of volume—and avoid getting buried in an avalanche of old polo shirts? That sounds like a logistical nightmare…

But the good news is, you can help! Rather than, or in addition to, just donating your own belongings, you can volunteer at certain stores to help sort clothes, housewares and more by sizes/styles/etc.; and, in turn, you can help ensure that those in need are able to receive what they need much quicker. As an example, in April, the Prosek Boston team plans to take a trip to St. Francis House, a local shelter, to assist the agency in keeping their donated clothes organized and streamlining the process of getting them into the hands of those in need. 

Spring Cleaning: It’s Not Just an Inside Thing

While cleaning up your own home will often be the main priority, it’s also important to consider the ways you can help clean up your local community. Outside of getting directly involved with a formal organization, we suggest hosting cleanup parties with your friends or family to beautify an area that’s close to both home and heart! Not only will this make you feel good about yourself, but it’ll also create a more pleasant environment for your community.

At the national level, the Keep American Beautiful (KAB) organization has been providing expertise, programs and resources since 1953 to help people end littering, recycle better and improve and beautifying our public spaces overall. Their work over the past seven decades has resulted in over 69 million pounds of litter and recycling collected, 146 thousand acres of cleaned litter, and nearly 60 thousand miles of cleaned up roads and highways. The organization has affiliates in every state, so getting involved is easy!

Don’t Just Clean, Build!

Just because it’s called “spring cleaning” doesn’t mean that’s the only activity you can lend a hand with as part of the season. Helping build homes and shelter for the unhoused can be just as or even more rewarding and impactful than other initiatives. Habitat For Humanity is the most commonly known organization on this front and seeks local volunteers to come together as a community and build housing for those in need—even offering specific build programs for women and veterans. 

Another great organization is Building Homes for Heroes. True to its name, the organization seeks volunteers to build shelter specifically for veterans. In America, about 11% of the unhoused population is comprised of former service members, which is why Building Homes for Heroes is dedicated to helping this underserviced community rebuild their lives—through building them homes. 

Of course, these are just two relevant organization to consider supporting in honor of spring-cleaning season. If you’re a handy person and good with tools, there are plenty of other ways you can provide assistance to those in need and do your part to strengthen our communities.

Springing into Action

To sum it all up, we believe that spring cleaning season is more than just a time to get your house in order. It can also serve as a great opportunity to give back to your local community through numerous different ways. 

We hope this guide is helpful and sparks ideas for you to get involved in your local community, with national organizations, or other initiatives that are dedicated to building a better tomorrow.

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