Dear Annie: Would you please remind people to call and ask before they donate items to charity, animal shelters, nursing homes and thrift stores?
Years ago, when my husband was in a nursing home, a group of ladies spent many hours knitting beautiful lap blankets for the people in the nursing home. Right after the women left the nursing home, aides put all those lap blankets on a cart and went in each room to ask the visitors whether they would like a blanket to take home. When they came to me and asked, I questioned where they had gotten these beautiful knit blankets from. The aide said that some women had made them for the nursing home. I then asked why they were giving them away. He said they didn't have the time to take care of all the lap blankets for the patients. I didn't take one.
Why did the nursing home take the blankets? The aides should've said, "It was so wonderful of you to think of us, but we can't use knitted blankets." Instead, they thanked the ladies and took the blankets, knowing they were not going to use them.
The courtesy of not giving away unneeded items should extend to thrift stores, too. If people have a stove or refrigerator that doesn't work, they shouldn't leave it behind a thrift store after dark.
People need to stop and think when they donate clothes, as well. Don't donate things that no one would ever wear. Put those at the curb for trash pickup. When our church was collecting clothes for the poor, we got a lot of beautiful clothes, but we also got clothes no one would ever wear. The same happens to thrift stores. They get bag after bag that they have to fill their dumpsters with.
I am sure some people just don't stop and think when donating. For example, when you can give a set of sheets, give the pillowcases, too. That would make the poor happy. I had a friend who worked at a thrift store. That is why I know how much is not good. -- Loveland, Ohio
Dear Loveland: Thank you for sharing with my readers this very useful advice. Though donating is always a thoughtful initiative, I think you have raised an interesting issue. Prior to giving away a piece of clothing, ask yourself, "Would anyone want to wear this?" I'd like to add that you never should donate expired food.
People at thrift stores and charities work hard to help those in need. Let's not give them more work by forcing them to sort through and discard what should have been put into the trash to begin with. If your clothes are overly ripped, torn, stained or worn, then be considerate and don't donate these items. And if you are a charity and someone gives you something very nice but you don't need it, then encourage the person to give to another charity in need.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to email@example.com.