Ditch your clutter and donate this spring

Sure, we all want our homes to look like the Container Store and Pottery Barn had a perfectly organized and, of course, clearly labeled baby, but come on, let’s be real. Real life means messy dishes and messy toddlers and, if you are a paper fanatic like me, messy stacks of who knows what from who knows when. I am far from an absolutely organized person and 14 months of being a parent have made that goal seem even more elusive, but you know what, it’s okay, because I still like to gather up a bunch of stuff to get rid of even if my closet is not, gasp, color coordinated.

Spring is a great time to purge random stuff that accumulated over the chilly months, so dust off the ol’ label maker, get your place fit for sunlight again, and why not donate your goods to do some good? I reached out to Fran Horvath, president of Greenout Cleanout, for some ideas on where Chicago parents can donate things. Greenout Cleanout, which helps people clear out household belongings, is based on sustainability. Horvath’s objective is to keep as many of her clients’ possessions out of landfills, so donating to local charities is one of the methods she uses to accomplish that goal. Check out three lesser-known places that Horvath recommends to give your items a second act:

The Junior League of Evanston-North Shore

This organization focuses on developing the potential of women and improving communities through trained volunteers among many other worthy endeavors. The Thrift House generates revenue to further the organization’s mission and you can help by donating your new or gently used clothing, shoes, jewelry and accessories (plus some other items, too). Donating means they can continue making a difference and you can have that organized closet. You know, the one that makes you drool every time you see it on a magazine cover.

Bernie’s Book Bank

If you suffer from “Goodnight Moon” (or another tried-and-true classic) overload like fellow blogger Candace Corner Miller, it might be time to part with a few reads to make room for some newbies for your little one’s library. Give your kiddo’s extra stash of page-turners to Bernie’s Book Bank. Knowing that these books will find new homes with at-risk kids (infants and toddlers, too) will make the trip to a drop off location in the city or suburbs feel worthwhile.

Northwestern Settlement

This organization is not new to the mission of helping local children and families. They have been doing it for 125 years! They have a variety of programs from education to social services and the arts. Look for the extensive wish list on their website to find out what items they need.

Heads up, parents: Diapers, strollers, play pens and school supplies were all on the list today! Take a look at what they need, grab a box and then walk around your place and throw in everything that you and your nuggets are not actually using. If your nest is in need of some serious streamlining love, like mine, make sure that it’s a big freakin’ box.

For the only 100 percent organized parent out there with no extra stuff to donate, congratulations. For the rest of us, it’s time to get into the spring cleaning groove, let go of some stuff, and help some good causes along the way. Chime in with charities that you plan to donate things to this spring. I’d love to hear from you!

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