We are a Goodwill Satellite Store

This morning when I opened our apartment door to go to Mass we could barely get out because there were two large white garbage bags blocking our way. Peering through the thin plastic I could see that there were little boy clothes and shoes inside. More money saved at the hands of our generous neighboors -hooray! Then, after Mass concluded, a mother of eight children approached our family and handed my excited three-year-old a smaller plastic bag which contained a (better-than-the-ill-fitting-one-he-has-at-home) Spiderman mask as well as a Robin costume. Superhero capes in our household have an average lifespan of 2.5 months, so, again, this gift was received with gratitude on my part.

As a mid-ranking military family, we live amidst families of similar age and health, however, we are the beneficiaries of a disproportionate amount of  hand-me-down clothing. I was reflecting recently upon what this said about us. Well, two things. It says that we are humble enough to accept these gifts and then dress our children in them. And, secondly, it says that we are the ones who are going to be expanding our family. I am happy that those around us can observe these qualities in our family of five. I hope to always be the family who will take your hand-me-downs when you have decided not to have any more children, because I am not going to make that decision any time soon.

  • Mary Alice

    So funny, we are a significant part of the goodwill supply chain. I seem to have 3-4 shopping bags a month for pick up. I don’t keep nearly as much as I used to, in part because my boy clothes have been worn by four boys, so only the dress things are in good enough shape to save, and my girls, if I am someday blessed with another girl, will be at least seven years apart!

  • Kat

    AWOL, we have also been the grateful recipients of many wonderful hand-me-downs from my sister-in-law (thanks, Mary!) and from friends in our neighborhood. People are very generous, and it always blows me away. We also give away clothes and other items that we are no longer using, and I try to put some thought into where these items will be best used. Sometimes I am wary of dropping certain items off at our local Goodwill drop-off, because the facility itself is always packed to the gills. Do these items end up in the hands of people who can really use them, or do they get lost in the shuffle? Dropping off at Goodwill is certainly the most convenient, but I’m not sure that it is always the most effective. nDo you all give away clothes that are heavily stained or have holes in them, or do you throw them away? Neither option is very appealing to me, and I’m now realizing why my mother used to take old clothes and use them for her cleaning rags. I used to think, “Why don’t you just throw away the clothes and buy regular rags, mom” but I now see that she didn’t want to waste the clothes or the money on cleaning rags!nIn any case, as our family grows I am very aware of the amount of clothes, toys, etc. that we go through, and am always looking for more sustainable items. For example, I now prefer wooden toys because they are more durable, and also because if they are more environmentally friendly than their plastic, battery-operated counterparts. I also look for a few good-quality shoes and clothes that will last and can be passed-on later, rather than having many clothes and shoes that are of a lower quality.nMaybe I should have written a separate post – I have more to say on this subject than I thought :)

    • Mary Alice

      Kat, I do separate. I try to give the nicest clothes to people I know (JM gets all of our church dresses), and clothes in bad shape get cut up for rags (often my clothes, actually). Often in the goodwill bag are toys that were never a big hit or are outgrown, and decent condition casual clothes which I just know that we are not going to get a lot of future wear from, and I do try to purge a lot from my own closets as well, things that are slightly out of style or just do not fit my life, and unfortunate shopping mistakes, like pants I have worn once or twice that never fit well, and lots and lots of random t-shirts, from races or kids activities. nnI am also a “goodwill” sorter — people give me their stuff and often I just wind up passing it on to goodwill, it is generous in theory, but a bunch of 2T girls pajamas are of no use to me right now, or some lady who has retired decides to give me all her 80s power suits, I think that people have trouble parting with things, they prefer to give them to someone, but I don’t mind just adding them to the bags on my porch for pick up.nnMy “goodwill” stuff actually goes to the Vietnam Vets, and they are constantly sending me emails asking me to schedule a pickup, so I assume that they are happy to have it and putting it to good use somehow.

      • Mary Alice

        Oh, and I meant to say that I totally agree about quality and natural fibers, I spend more per item now but less overall on clothes. We own fewer things and the older kids can wear things like pajamas several days in a row.nnAND — we are trying our hands at sewing our own pajama bottoms, super fun, easy, thrifty, and you can use 100% cotton for lounge pants just like the high end ones. In general I keep my eyes out for cotton pjs, which last forever, because the non-flammable ones pill up and get scratchy.

  • LaurenA

    Wonderful and God bless you and your family! This is a fabulous post!

  • Anonymous

    We don’t receive as many hand-me-downs as in years past. I used to really like receiving big bags of clothes for my oldest boy and girl, such a huge money saver! Unfortunately those big bags have stopped, and so I find myself spending a lot of money on clothes for my older two children.nnBoys clothes get very “used” and perhaps that is why Charlie rarely gets used clothes. Most boys clothes make it through 2 uses (for both my boys), and I have a very small number of items (usually dress clothes) that make their way through 2 children and then on to another family or goodwill. I’ve been passing along most of our boy’s clothes as there will be a pretty big gap between Gus and another potential baby boy. G and Claire are 5.5 years apart, and I often feel silly hanging on to Gianna’s clothes for so long! I have started to give more away figuring it will be put to good use elsewhere and if and when I need something like it again, God will provide.

  • http://www.tapestryoffaith.blogspot.com Karen

    It also might mean that you are a nice family! People tend not to want to bless others who are mean, rude, have bad character and morally speaking – doing a bad job at life. n”Who could I give this superman mask to? I know, that nice family. I sure they would love it.”

  • B-mama

    AWOL, we, too, are the recipients of many hand-me-downs thanks to having twin boy cousins who are 10mos. older than our oldest! I seriously owe my sister thousands of dollars for all that she’s saved me on clothes. I sometimes find I’m so used to hand-me-downs that I don’t know how to shop for kids clothes at the store!! I *thankfully* haven’t had to do it much. We’re now getting ready to pass on a bunch of our youngest boy clothes and it feels good to finally be at a point where we can give back!

  • JMB

    I have a boy followed by girls and other than baby and toddler clothes, I haven’t been able to pass down regular clothes for years now. My son, of course, always gets new clothes. I am fortunate that a good friend of mine works at JCrew and is the mother of three boys, so my son now sports some nice J Crew togs (slightly worn by her son).nAs for the girls, they have different body types and were born in different seasons so it was always pretty problematic. Other than holiday clothes and winter jackets, I had to pretty much outfit each girl for each season. nI am fortunate in the sense that my cleaning woman is part of a big Columbian immigrant family/network and has gladly taken all my giveaways for years now. I just got into the habit of saving and storing very little. In fact, the only thing I now save are snow pants, boots, winter jackets and soccer cleats. Every thing else goes out. nI also do what Mary Alice does when I do occasionally receive clothes from friends – I sort through the bag immediately and get rid of anything that doesn’t work.

  • http://happilyeverjohnson.blogspot.com Queen B

    Thank you, Jesus, for all the people who have passed onto us their older children’s clothing and shoes. I don’t know what I would have done without these angels of provision.


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