Okay I need some help. I can't figure out how to give my stuff away.
I had a garage sale this past week. For the most part, my garage sale was a total bust. I'm not sure why, but it certainly bombed. I've had several friends tell me that they've profited close to a thousand dollars at garage sales - I profited like $260.
And because I'm me, I have to figure out a way to justify (to myself) all the HOURS of work I put into it. Do you know how much your back starts to ache after spending entire evenings price-stickering baby clothes?
So, I've found a few benefits of my failed garage sale:
First, it was a good intro to entrepreneurialism for my kids. They made a few dollars on their cookie & water sale, and got to go shopping this morning. It was a great opportunity for them to learn what $10 will and will not buy, and how to make a choice within their means.
Second, my small profit covers our splurge on tickets for an upcoming concert that Paul and I have been looking forward to...so that's a sweet deal.
And third...the hours of organizing a garage sale ended up being a means of figuring out just how much stuff I have to give away. I have so much stuff to give.
But here in lies my problem.
I want to give my stuff away. It's not as easy as it sounds.
A garage sale is a weird experience. I've shopped at many, but this was my first time having my own. I thought I would never do it, but like a month ago, a good friend gave back to me a whole load of infant girl clothes I'd lended to her and forgotten about. So here I was with a ton of adorable 0-6 month baby girl clothes, an no one to give them to. Now what?
I told Paul about my garage sale idea, and he thought I was nuts. But I have this crazy impulsive nature about me, and after I get something in my head I just have to do it. So I started looking around my house, in closets and drawers, through the lense of "what can I get rid of?" and found tons of stuff that we no longer use.
Thus, the garage sale. And then it bombed. But whatever.
It's a weird thing, having a garage sale.
Here I sat, with tables of baby girl clothes that held a thousand memories for me...she wore this dress for Christmas eve, she cuddled with me in this onesie, my husband bought this for her because his Daddy-heart couldn't resist it...and I watched people who have no attachment whatsoever to these items pick them up, look at them, study them, and then put them down again. And I thought, "WHAT!? Don't you see how adorable that is! How is it not worth $3 to you?!"
But then the garage-sale consumer in me reminded me that to that shopper, it's just another baby dress.
So the garage sale bombed, and now I want to give it all away to somebody who actually needs it. Somebody to whom "it's not just another baby dress." But a gift. A blessing.
As I sat there watching people not buy my stuff, all I could hear in my head was a VBS song from church this summer that my kids are still singing constantly two months later: "When You love me more than I can contain, I gotta turn around give, give, give it away."
I just want to give it all away. Clothes, toys, bottles, parkas, snowsuits.
Jesus' love in baby-gift form.
So, I've boxed up my boy stuff for a family friend that's adopting a sweet little boy from Uganda in a couple of weeks. And I've boxed up some girl clothes for my sweet little niece. But I still have so much. Beautiful baby girl clothes. Tons of baby boy bibs. Socks. Shoes. Board books. Backpacks.
And I want to give it. And I want my children to learn to give it.
But this is my problem: I want to give it face to face.
I want my daughter to see the look on another little girl's face when she gives her a backpack for school this fall. I want my son to see the look on another little boy's face when he gets new shoes and books.
So, I've made some phone calls. And I'm frustrated. I have a few more phone calls to make, but so far, everyone tells me that the items will be "much appreciated, and they'll go into our thrift store for people to purchase, and then our organization benefits from those sales"
Yes, I get that in the long run, that does indeed serve the needy in my community. And I get that I can write it off in my donations on my taxes. But I don't want my items to be purchased. I already tried that and I'm done with it. I want my items to be gifts. Gifts given face to face.
It's craziness that Paul and I could fly around the world a few years ago to South Africa, and hand our shoes to new friends who needed them in Limpopo, and see face to face how our shoes were a blessing; but in my own city, I can't find a way to do that.
Indeed, we plan to take our children to third world countries so they can learn to give and serve on a global level, as a Christ-follower serving God's world. Absolutely. We are all for that. But why can't we do it here too?
I mean, I know we can. But why is it so hard?
Why can we package up boxes at Christmas time to be hand-delivered to children around the world through Operation Christmas Child, but I can't find a way to hand-deliver gifts to the boys and girls in my own city who need shoes and backpacks? Why can our family sponsor six children in Africa and Guatemala, and provide clothing and education for six individual real-life children around the world, but I can't find a way to do that in my city?
It's craziness. Why is it so hard to give?
A couple of the places I know of that support young single moms only take new items. I'm frustrated by that. Some of my baby girl clothes are nearly brand spankin-new and would be such a blessing. I want them to be loved, not evaluated. I know all these "systems" are in place to try to help people, but as the giver, it feels like there are so many "systems" in place that I can't give my items as a gift to the people who most need them.
I know full well that there are children in our school who don't have backpacks for school this fall. There are two backpacks in the back of my van looking for a young girl to use them. They are well-loved already and not great. But they'll hold books and snowpants. How do I find the girl who doesn't have one?
I know full well that there are 4-5 year old girls in my city who can't afford shoes for pre-school this fall. There are like 10 pairs in the back of my van, waiting for a little girl who needs them. How do I find her?
I know full well that there are young single moms who need bibs for their little boy, or the expensive Avent bottles that she can't afford. There are many in the back of my van waiting for a baby who needs them. How do I find that baby and that mom?
I'm frustrated. I want to give in my own community the same love that I can give if I go to Limpopo, South Africa.
If you have the answers to all these questions, I welcome your advice. If you are the woman or child or dad who needs them, let me know. If you are the fellow Christian who wants to love like Jesus and feels like there are so many "systems" and "thrift stores" that are meant to help but making it so hard to give, let's work together to figure out how to love on our own community members, face to face.
It shouldn't be so hard to give.