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A Spring Cleaning Challenge

What is it about new green buds, light warm breezes, and longer days that make a Fool want to spring clean? What, you're not excited by the prospect of spring cleaning? Well, you might be, if we redefine "spring cleaning" just a bit.

Discard any thoughts of becoming the Tasmanian Devil with a Dustbuster. Instead, take a good hard look at all that stuff around your home and consider clearing out the things you can live without. What if you took all the extra stuff that you might possibly use one day -- and might not -- and gave it to someone who can use it right now

We've actually done just that here at Fool HQ. Our new fiscal year started on April 1st, so to close out the old year and make ourselves all spiffy, shiny, and refreshed, we held our own version of spring cleaning. Everyone at Fool HQ was invited to bring in items they no longer needed, such as older cell phones and computers, sheets and towels, eye glasses, and business clothing. We arranged to take those donations and give them to local charities. It didn't take too much effort, and it will improve the lives of many people -- not to mention our own!

Our Challenge to You
We hereby invite YOU to join us by doing the same. Consider holding a Spring Cleaning Drive at your workplace or church or school or anywhere a bunch of people regularly gather -- perhaps even a gym or watering hole. Just about every community has organizations that can use all kinds of things you probably aren't using at all. Once you hold your drive, let us know about it. Post a message on our Foolanthropy discussion board and share your results!

What to Collect
Below are some ideas of what you can collect and some organizations that can use them. (Note that there are surely many other worthy organizations. You may want to poke around for some other possibilities.) Feel free to let us know of any other collectibles or organizations on our Foolanthropy discussion board.

Business clothing: Many organizations across the nation provide low-income men and women with the professional clothing and accessories they need to look professional and feel confident at their interviews and on the job. This increases their odds of getting and keeping a good job. Possible recipients: Dress for Success for women's clothes and Career Gear for men's clothes.

Prom dresses: These are things most people will never wear a second time, yet if donated, they can be worn by someone else for the first time to a prom. Possible recipient: Chicago's Glass Slipper Project, which also lists some resources in other locations.

Cell phones: Used cell phones can be recycled and re-used in an environmentally friendly manner. Once refurbished, they can be used to provide affordable wireless service in the United States and abroad to those who need it. Possible recipient: The Collective Good.

Eyeglasses: These can be redistributed to the poor in developing nations and America. Possible recipient: The Lions Club's "SightFirst" program.

Computers: These can also be refurbished if necessary and distributed to needy organizations around the world. Possible recipient: eHow lists a bunch.

Old towels and sheets: Animal shelters can use these to line pens and help keep the animals clean and comfortable -- look up a nearby shelter in your yellow pages.

Furniture and household stuff: The Salvation Army and Goodwill are happy to take these off your hands, and some Goodwill chapters will even pick up large furniture from your home.

Food: Your local food bank is always happy to receive donations. America's Second Harvest is the nation's main network of food banks, and lists plenty of local food banks all over the country.

Books: These can be donated to local hospitals or nursing homes or schools or libraries (perhaps for their book sales) or even prisons.

With a little thinking or a little web exploring, you can come up with ideas of even more things to collect and donate. An article at NBC4 lists some others, such as bicycles and stuffed animals.

Tips for Your Drive
Here's some advice about how to make it work best for you:

1) Call each organization first. Find out what and when they can accept donations. Some groups are very small and need to plan with you regarding donations.

2) Don't contribute anything flammable, toxic, or irreparable.

3) You're unlikely to find a recipient for underclothes or pharmaceuticals.

4) Wash all clothes first.

5) Remember to tell us whether you hold such a drive, and what your results were -- and Fool on!


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