Legend had it in my hometown that a boy named Joel wrote the band The Dead Milkmen a fan letter in the late 1980s, and a few weeks later the band sent him a package in return. His fan letter allegedly requested that the band send him some mementos from their homes that he could have and value as keepsakes. Not wanting to let down their “biggest fan,” as Joel’s letter had proclaimed, they put together a box full of goodies for him to treasure.
The box was filled up with some of The Dead Milkmen’s clutter — a random dirty sock, the plastic wrap off of a pack of cigarettes, some bottle caps, a magnet, etc.
I don’t know if the story is true (20 years does weird things with history), but I like to think that it is. I like the idea of being able to box up things that I no longer need (quality goods, that is, not cigarette wrappers) and give them to someone who can appreciate them. Although I don’t have a fan club to happily receive my clutter, I can have a similar experience by donating my lightly used goods to charity.
Throughout the United States there are thousands of charities that accept goods for distribution or to sell. About a year ago, the Real Simple television show did a roundup of many of these national organizations. If you missed the episode, view the exhaustive five-page list here. It is a nice collection of groups that are always looking for donations.
For our neighbors to the north, Charity Village has a list of Canadian organizations that also accept used items.