Tomorrow marks the beginning of Tycob Month. I will be posting about the boys, our journey, memories and hopefully get some vlogs up and running. In addition, it will mark the beginning of the fundraiser (more details about that tomorrow) so for today I wanted to get in one completely unrelated to the boys post.
I guess it's not completely unrelated to the boys, the lesson of value we learned from them relates to this post. After Ty died, I felt my life was cluttered. During the first few weeks after his death I went through everything we owned and ended up donating 1/2 of our household possessions. I just felt they were a heavy burden and I wanted them gone. Material objects no longer had any significance. After Jacob died, I still felt like we had too much so I again went through everything we owned and got rid of an additional 1/4th of what was left over. In a matter of 11 months, we rid our household possessions by 75%.
I continue to rid our household of material objects to live a more minimalist lifestyle. Material possessions don't hold much value to Stephen and I. I always feel satisfied after unloading bags at donation centres. There was a time, way back when, that we would have tried to sell our items, but we decided it was too much work and too frustrating. Given, I do sell Bee's clothes and toys to Once Upon A Child, but it all goes back to them to buy her the next size up. However, they are picky so I usually get half of what I tried to sell back. In other words, we still have a lot of stuff we like to donate.
I've always donated to bigger well known organizations (Goodwill, Salvation Army, Value Village) but after the boys died I felt this was not enough. Not to say they are bad organizations, but we all know they take our items and sell them, most money going towards CEO's and not people who truly need it. This is when I started looking for more local options. I wanted to find a place that I could drop stuff off too and they would use, not sell. I found a few women's/children's shelters and started donating to them. But the most recent load went to a new place. I found donating to the shelters, they had stacks and stacks of stuff and not that many people at the shelter, I felt there was a need in the general community not in shelters and this is when I found the Life Spin Free Store.
It's what it says, a free store. This morning I had the privilege of spending some time there. I watched the people line up before the store opened, they seemed to have a comradery. They respected who was there first and when the doors opened, there was no rush over each other, there was respect. I watched some of them "eye" each other, I felt they were silently judging who was too "proper" to be there. I could be totally wrong but there was most certainly some "eyeing". I watched them pile in as the store opened and saw people grabbing at the basic necessities of life, pots, pans, clothes, towels, toys etc. They didn't care if there was a hole or stain on a shirt because they probably don't own many clothes.
I saw the excitement in their eyes as they found dishes, some stating they needed some glass cups so they could stop using disposable cups. They weren't dressed to the nines, some did not speak well, a lot of them were smoking, some look very dishevelled but to see the appreciation of such little things opened my eyes. Its like when we went to Mexico and how much it affected me to see people living in shacks, literally shacks. It's not that I'm ignorant and don't know people have less then us, I've very aware, which is why I started donating to local charities. But I think the Free Store offers something no other place does, basic necessities of life to those who need it. I took some time to walk around and see what they had. Picture frames, dishes, sheets, towels, clothes and children's items.
I didn't need to know their backstory, I didn't need to ask because I could see and I could see the true appreciation of such simple things to most. Things most people take for granted. The kids who delighted in toys, or a new pair of pajamas. Adults were elated to find a new shirt (not in the most pristine shape, but they did not care).
So why does this matter to me? I do encourage those who live in London to skip donating to the bigger charities (Goodwill, the Salvation Army, Value Village etc) and donate more locally. I will be donating to the Free Store from now on. They take everything and the need is great. Donate to people who can't even afford those stores. Donate to people who don't even have the basic necessities of life. Whether you think they deserve it or not should not be an issue. We never know how people end up where they do and we should not judge. Perhaps we should depart from some of our cherished possessions to make someone else smile, to make someone else feel appreciated.
As I sat there and watched people line up I couldn't help but feel the need to go home and find even more things to drop off. Things that are just taking up space in our life that have no need or use. We don't need 20 forks, we don't need 20 t-shirts, Bee doesn't need 100's of toys. We can build memories on events and not possessions, so we choose to give our possessions to those with none.
Not only did I observe a different life, I discovered an amazing local non-profit. I think donating locally is far more important than just donating so please, next time you go to drop off some items, consider the Free Store or the various shelters. I will say, the shelters don't all take dishes, towels etc but the Free Store does. Speaking of donating, stay tuned tomorrow, we start our fundraiser for the boys and this year we have chosen 4 local charities to donate to!