After a Disaster, What Should You Do with Old Clothes?
The Disaster Dilemma
After nearly every natural disaster, countless people go to their closets, pull out items they want to donate to somebody in need, load them into cars and trucks—and then are upset to learn that nearly every charity in the area already has all the clothing they can possibly give away or store. The same thing often happens with spring cleaning and at the end of summer, when renters on the east end close up their seasonal homes.
The predictable deluge of old clothes after a hurricane is sometimes called “the second storm,” by disaster relief agencies, but our impulse to donate is a good one. And it is far better to give clothing away than for it to end up in a landfill, but many of us clearly have way too much stuff in our homes.
What To Donate--and When
How can you get your no-longer-needed clothes to those who need them?
1) One thing you can do is to sort through the stuff you no longer need—or no longer fits—and take just the clothes for the coming season to a charity such as the LICC. We almost always need summer clothes at the beginning of summer and winter clothes at the beginning of winter, but we seldom have room to store heavy coats in May.
2) Lura Cayton from FEMA has another suggestion: have a garage sale (tag sale) and donate the proceeds to an agency providing disaster relief.
3) You also might consider is to find space for a donation boxes for a legitimate charity that can handle large quantities of clothing. The LICC, for example, helps the Society of St. Vincent de Paul to find additional sites for clothing collection boxes. If you have a corner of a parking lot where you would be willing to have a clothing box, the Society will empty it as often as needed. Recycling clothes is good for planet, good for people who need inexpensive clothing, and generates much-needed revenue for the Society and the Council. They even put unwearable rags to good use in recycled paper. For more info about the LICC’s collection box placement, please call Tom Abbate at 1-800-884-7837.
The Cash Option
While charities often struggle to get used clothes to people who really need them, nearly every nonprofit can use monetary donations to help disaster victims--and those whose lives were a disaster before the storm hit. To do the most good, it is often best to give cash to a charity you trust. You can buy food for the LICC's food pantries, for instance, through the links on this Web site, which allows us to get as much as possible from your donation and to get the items that our neighbors need the most.