Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Free Stuff

This past weekend, the papered-over windows of the old Sears franchise store glowed onto this little collection of boxes, bearing the sign "FREE STUFF". It's not so unusual to see larger items out on a home's sidewalk being offered to whoever will take it away - things that really aren't in any condition for a charity shop to try to sell. But lately, I've seen several of these displays of clothing and books and shoes and toys, left out where no one will monitor anyone's rummaging through (allowing for some dignity?), but away from commercial complaints as well. Perhaps it's an effort to get such items right into the hands of someone in real need, so they don't even have to pay pennies to a benevolent fundraiser, because resources are so slim.

I didn't get to catch up with last week's newspaper until today. It turns out that the light glowing inside was because the space is being used to sort and wrap donated new gifts for needy children in the area. As the article says:
The children have been confidentially referred to the program by teachers, service agencies and other agencies. The children fill out red gift tags that include their first name, age, needed clothing, and their big wish from Santa.

Tags are hung on Christmas trees located in businesses around town. Community members are encouraged to pick tags off the trees, purchase the items listed and bring the unwrapped gifts to the old Sears building for wrapping and distribution.

The question of why there are homeless and needy people in America has come up in another blog recently, and the problem is certainly complex. But on a local level, people try to do what they can, with what they have, where they are. We have always been a nation rich with volunteers. We are free to assemble, free to give, free stuff.


Meead said...

We also have some kind of "Free Stuff" in our dorm. When students move out, they leave over some of their used stuff for new students to take. There is also a group called FOCUS (Friends of Overseas Citizens and University Students) who gives the new international students some kitchen stuff and furniture. They gave us a microwave, pots and dishes. http://www.focuspsu.com/
There is also a very old man called PAPA who comes to the dorm every two weeks and gives the international students (only internationals not the Americans) a small pack of cookies. Isn't it nice? Thanks to them.

raf said...

Well done, Elaine! Good observations on the needs and the questions why. And also the inspiration that comes from people's readiness to help.

Saretta said...

Poverty in America should be a national disgrace. Many people don't think about it enough.

Knoxville Girl said...

Thank goodness for people with big hearts and sensitivity to put this "free stuff" out.
Elaine, I hope you have a very happy Christmas. You have such a generous spirit.

Rosie said...

In Englad we sometimes get free apples but have never seen shoes...
Did you see their size? He he he

Kris McCracken said...

Hello Elaine, I beg your forgiveness for my cutting and pasting – yet constantly reworking – this comment, but there was no way on Earth I would be able to make it around the whole globe to wish everybody a Merry Christmas otherwise.

The magical elves that constitute my staff have demonstrated their lack of respect in either not showing up for work at all, and those that have all seem a little worse for wear, if you catch my drift. All they seem to do is sit around smoking cigarettes that, quite frankly, smell funny. And they play cards and tell dirty jokes rather than do their jobs! Consequently, the reindeer are all filthy and out of shape. And you know, the two rabbits, one wallaby and three wombats I’ve drafted in just don’t cut it as replacements.

Anyway, from myself, Henry and Ezra, have a Merry Christmas/Winter Solstice/Hanukkah/Festivus and a happy New Year!

I hope that all of your holiday photos turn out to be triumphs, your stocking is stuffed full of lots of tasty treats and not coal and that all your pumpkin pies are all as sweet just the way that you like them.

Anonymous said...

I lay things like that on my sidewalk with notes. They always go quickly. I like to see them used.

Tomate Farcie said...

I give a lot of stuff away. It's the right thing to do. Sometimes, charitable organizations make you jump through unbelievable hoops, so now I use Craigslist Free section to let people know, and also put things out in front of my building, or drive boxes of things in select neighborhoods. I don't give out junk though. I usually clean the stuff thoroughly, and wrap it in plastic if the weather is iffy. If I have manuals to go with equipment I give away, I include them too. You'd be surprised the number of people who need stuff but it's very difficult to get it to them.