Quality donations help nonprofits accomplish their mission

Like many in Southwest Florida, my parents were raised during the Great Depression.
 
That meant they learned the value of a dollar at an early age. Leftover food wasn’t thrown away; it was the next day’s meal. A shirt with a small tear or hole was stitched up and worn again. Soles were glued back onto shoes in hopes of having sneakers last a few more months. Household appliances were put back into working order with spare parts and dad’s ingenuity.
 
I listened to all of their stories and appreciated their commitment to letting nothing go to waste. In addition to inheriting their frugality and thriftiness, I also acquired their dedication to community service and helping others who haven’t been as fortunate.
 
Many of my peers in Southwest Florida also are equipped with their parents’ Depression-era manta of “waste nothing.” They are among the top donors at Guadalupe Resale Shop, providing valuable items that then are resold to help pay for highly successful educational programs at Guadalupe Center in Immokalee.
 
In recent months, though, we’ve received more questions about what is considered a “valuable item” to donate. Stories in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and numerous other publications have addressed the rise in low-quality donations fueled by a popular TV show about decluttering, and with spring cleaning now kicking into high gear, secondhand stores are receiving more donations of items that likely won’t be resold – or even make it on the shelf for that matter – because they are deemed unusable.
 
I like to tell people before they donate an item, to ask themselves, “Is this something I would give to a friend?” If the answer is no, then it most likely is not of a quality that someone else will want to purchase it.
 
Guadalupe Resale Shop has been blessed with an amazingly generous base of regular donors who have given entire living room and bedroom sets, oak cabinets, stylish apparel, one-of-a-kind pieces of artwork and home décor. Our high-quality items don’t sit on the showroom floor very long. Every time we make a sale, that’s another opportunity to support the children whose lives are being transformed through Guadalupe Center, which has a mission of breaking the cycle of poverty through education for the children of Immokalee.
 
Some of those national news articles and blog posts also have discussed the unfortunate outcome of low quality donations. Thrift store staff, who often are volunteers, must spend valuable time sorting through massive piles of donations to determine which items can be resold, and which will be discarded.
 
At Guadalupe Resale Shop, we provide guidelines for the donations we accept to better ensure quality resale merchandise for our customers. On occasion, donations may contain something that doesn’t have a resale value or items we don’t sell, but we don’t want to throw anything in the trash. Perhaps that’s my parents’ influence coming into play. We have partnered with a number of nonprofit organizations in Southwest Florida that might be able to put those donations to good use. Well-meaning donors can bring worn or tattered towels, for instance, to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida or Humane Society to line animal cages or help clean up any spills.
 
To make sure your donation will truly make an impact for Guadalupe Center and can be sold in our Resale Shop, here are the items we accept: like-new furniture, home décor, kitchenware, artwork, lamps, linens, DVDs and CDs, books and all types of ladies and men’s clothing, including accessories such as jewelry, purses and nearly new shoes. The Resale Shop does not accept donations of electronics, used household appliances, mattresses, children’s clothing and toys, baby equipment, gardening tools, light figures, ceiling fans, armoires, entertainment centers or exercise equipment.
 
About the Author
Kat McNabb is manager of Guadalupe Resale Shop, a boutique that supports educational programs at Guadalupe Center in Immokalee. Guadalupe Resale Shop, located at 12980 Tamiami Trail N., Unit 10 in Naples, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. For more information, please call 239-594-2696.