As I mentioned last night, for the coming week there will be Little Daily posts and they are themed around what I am calling Giving Week here on the blog.
Lately, I have been floundering a bit. Overwhelmed by the demands of motherhood, of writing this blog, feeling uncomfortable in my body and generally lacking motivation.
I needed to clear out – and what better place to start than a literal removal of actual stuff?
We have more than enough – of everything. And so I began to cull – toys, clothes, *gulp* – baby clothes, and anything that had a specific use but whose function in our life was little more than a possession.
I happened across a post by Nicole Avery at Planning With Kids. I can't remember exactly what I'd been searching for but it was something to do with alternatives to donating my stuff to the Salvos. Of course, I still do that – A LOT – but there are always things they won't take* and things that you wonder might be put to better use if they could go straight to a family in need. So I was absolutely thrilled to read Nicole's post about an organisation called St Kilda Mums.
In their own words, this is what St Kilda Mums do:
We collect donations of nursery equipment and recycle cots, prams, bassinets, clothes and other baby essentials and check that they meet current Victorian safety standards.
We receive requests from Maternal Health Nurses and local social service agencies on behalf of families in need. We then try to meet or exceed each request with quality pre-loved donations.
As you might guess, demand always exceeds supply. In fact, we have a long wait list for prams and cots and they are re-homed within days of receipt.
I was instantly and electrically charged by the idea that I could donate something that would be immediately useful to another mum, a mum who did not have the resources to obtain it otherwise.
I put together a bag of things, clothes and books and a baby bath I have had since Luca was born. Initially, I was conflicted about the bath. It had bathed all three of our children but now, it was sitting on the piano (the piano!) waiting for me to decide what to do with it next. A quick search on Ebay revealed that there were zillions of the exact same bath for sale. It would not be worth the time and energy to sell it for $15. A baby bath is often really handy for newborns so St Kilda Mums seemed the perfect place for this little piece of our family history. Even Bren made a sad face as he loaded it into the car but placing sentimental value on a piece of plastic was crazy and we both knew it. So we got over ourselves and handed over the bath, in excellent used condition, and comforted ourselves that soon, a new pair of darling little baby legs would be splashing about in it.
Little Luca in the bath of great sentimentality
We made our first drop-off two weekends ago and since then, I have been pacing around this storage-poor house looking for things we never use. Already, I have trikes, more books and clothes and sheet sets for cots and bassinets. Being that Harlow will be our last baby, there is also much baby equipment that we will be done with in the next 6 months. Yes, it's bittersweet and occasionally I get a bit precious about stuff that belonged to my babies but in the end, they are just things and do no-one any good being stored away in a shed in the name of sentimentality.
Taking the focus off myself and what I need, and concentrating it on the possibilities for helping those who truly need it has made me feel….giddy. Alive. And impatient to do more.
And I want to shout it from the rooftops! It's a simple thing I can do, donate things my family no longer needs and yet, the outcome of that simple act can be more meaningful than I would ever have imagined. To be inspired by the work these amazing volunteers do and read of the very real changes they have made to the lives of some of Melbourne's most vulnerable families, check out the St Kilda Mums Facebook page. They often post a shout-out when there is a specific need for goods – for example, bikes for a family of children who have a half hour walk to school each day – and to watch the community rally around to fill the need is breath-taking.
I can't express how moved I am by this amazing initiative.
If you live in Melbourne and you think you might have some worthwhile donations for St Kilda Mums, I urge you to get in touch via FB or the website.
For those wanting to donate in NSW or ACT, check out a similar group, Dandelion Support Network.
When putting together a bag of clothes for goodwill, I know few of us will wash items that have been in storage because we assume that whoever ends up buying them will do that anyway. Likewise, we don't de-pill blankets or steam clean plastic toys. But when you donate to St Kilda Mums, it makes a world of difference to prepare those goods to be donated as though you were preparing to sell them. Your pre-loved things will go directly to families in need, often presented in a lovely gift bag of items (made up by St Kilda Mum staff) and if those items are freshly laundered and in clean and tidy condition, it makes a difference to the families who receive them and also to the wonderful StKM staff whose volunteered time is precious. I know we are all time-poor but I am actually relishing the time spent de-pilling a tiny mattress protector, knowing that the mum who puts it on her baby's bassinet will appreciate the extra care I took to make the donation seem less pre-loved.
Have you done something lately that has made you feel good right down to the depths of your soul? Are you moved to make a positive impact in your life? If, like me, you have been feeling a little low, a little lost, I recommend you find a cause to get inspired by. Maybe St Kilda Mums is it!
* For various reasons, legal or otherwise, goodwill donation agencies can not accept certain items that are otherwise in good, clean condition and have many more serviceable years ahead. I am not talking about the things that clearly belong in landfill. I know that charities like The Salvation Army spend a ridiculous amount of time and money sorting through 'donations' of broken, unsafe or unusable items that should have been taken to the tip instead.
Thanks for this as it is such a great idea. I really can’t be bothered selling things and am actually happy to see them go straight to another person who could use them.
Top notch solution!
It really is! I’m thrilled. xx
Love the idea of baby items going to a new family, pretty much pronto. How wonderful! I’m a big believer in passing on stuff too, and have only sold two baby items. Everything else has been donated once P outgrows it, and it feels good – but oh, I hear you on the sad faces with certain items. Even J does this. There are still a couple of newborn things I haven’t been able to bare with passing on just yet, but I’ll get there. If my clucky-for-number-three husband lets me, that is…