Saturday, May 16, 2009

Grab Bag of Stocking Stuffers for Women's Shelters

Saturdays are my day for general posts, and today I wanted to talk about something I did last year, which was to donate a bunch of stocking stuffers to a local women's shelter in addition to some larger items.

The university library I worked at before my current job does a yearly gift drive for a local women's shelter. It's one of my favorite charitable drives because it's local and it feels tangible, if you know what I mean. The shelter asks for new rather than used donations, and is happy to receive items for both women and children. All year, I pick up occasional goodies at the dollar store or at a post-holiday sale, but I also put aside gifts I've received that I know I'll never use myself but would be appropriate -- a type of "regifting" I feel good about! I consider these items new because they're unused (I leave the tags on), and I store them in a box just for this purpose so they won't get dusty or covered with cat hair.

As for stocking stuffers, well, last year it finally occurred to me to call the shelter and ask them if they could use unopened Happy Meal toys and small things like that. The answer was a very enthusiastic "Yes!" It turned out I had tons of little unused things I'd been hanging onto, not sure what to do with, because I just can't bear to throw things away.

So, if you participate in a gift drive for a women's and children's shelter, consider donating some great stocking stuffers as well as larger items. You can check whether they take new items, used, or both. Perhaps you have several kids' meal toy duplicates that you don't know what to do with. Maybe you've received a stocking stuffer yourself that you aren't likely to use. You can always pick up some trial sizes of the nicer women's toiletries at Target or elsewhere. If the shelter requires unwrapped items, as ours does, you can put all the small items in a bag labeled "stocking stuffers" and include it with your donation. Be aware that some shelters will not list their physical address on their website in order to protect their clients, so you may need to call and ask.

You might even be the one to organize a new gift drive for your local shelter!

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