The Kindness of Friends

April 15, 2011

If you recall, in January I wrote a couple posts about taking donations. The rules of the No Stuff Experiment are we won’t accept gifts of new items, but we will take surplus, clutter, or used items off others’ hands. In the intervening months, several folks have offered me their unwanted stuff, and I’d say I’ve made a decent haul.

Mary was the first to approach me with an offering: two sheets of red construction paper. With this paper, Channing and I made darling Valentines for each other. We wore them while enjoying a dinner of bœuf bourguignon (Julia’s recipe, made with part of my first batch of beef stock) and watching Love Happens, starring Aaron Eckhart and Jennifer Aniston (don’t let the idiotic but hopeful title fool you—this movie is a real downer).

Shortly after the construction paper donation, I received a (reusable) grocery bag full of surplus yarn from my friend Laurin. I taught myself to knit in 2010 (it was my new year’s resolution), and by the end of the year, aside from yarn needed for two overdue Christmas projects, I had only two or three balls of a very funky mohair in my yarn stash. I was pretty bummed about having to give up my new hobby until I could buy more supplies—and I made my dismay known to Laurin when we saw each other in January. She took the hint graciously, and by mid-March my yarn basket was filled to the brim. Scarfs for everyone this Christmas!

Not two weeks later, I received a garbage bag full of unwanted fabric from Channing’s mom. What a surprise! In the bag were several yards of medium and heavyweight cotton, including a fabulous red giraffe print (oh, the possibilities). What I couldn’t use I donated to the Virginia Green Baggers, a group in this area that makes cloth shopping bags and gives them away for free.* As thrilled as I was to have a bunch of new fabric, I was nearly as excited about the extra garbage bag. We have started averaging about three weeks between trips to the dumpster—trying to make our box of trash bags last. Now we have a little more wiggle room.

The most recent donation was more of a loan. I started playing ultimate frisbee again this spring, and my team wanted to show some spirit by purchasing and wearing matching bright pink knee-high socks during the games. I let the captain (who is actually the guy who taught me how to play ultimate in college twelve years ago) know that I had taken a pledge not to buy anything new for six months and politely declined to join the sock order. But, as luck would have it, his fiancée had a pair of these bright pink socks that she was willing to give me for the season. Now, I know it sounds gross to borrow someone’s socks, but they have been washed (and, I assume, properly sterilized), so I will be wearing them the next time I play. If I get some kind of foot fungus, you can say, “I told you so.”

I am grateful to have been on the receiving end of so much generosity, and at some point I’m sure I will repay my four benefactors directly. In the meantime, though, I have paid it forward. I gave my sister a pair of old running pants, which she wore last weekend in her first half marathon. I gave away some CDs, two grocery bags of plastic food storage containers, a set of pots and pans, two glass baking pans, assorted kitchen utensils, and my 15th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style to some happy Freecyclers. Plus, in February Channing and I made a big donation of clothes, shoes, and other odds and ends to charity. It’s just good karma. Let the giving continue.

*Full disclosure: I sew for this group, and it is special. We borrowed the idea from the Green Bag Lady in Tennessee (with permission, of course). We use only fabric we receive by donation—usually from folks with a fabric surplus but sometimes from people who want to see their old (clean) sheets and curtains and pillowcases repurposed. No money exchanges hands. We’re all volunteers, we accept donations of fabric only, and we’ll give anyone a bag for free, as long as they sign a pledge to use the bag instead of paper or plastic.


2 Responses to “The Kindness of Friends”

  1. Jill Says:

    Earlier today, before I read this post, I was thinking of giving you some fabric scraps that I found in my basement. Now, I’m also going to be saving my ripped sheets for you to repurpose as you see fit. Enjoy!

  2. Bernice Says:

    I finally subscried to the blog — whenever I remember to come here and look, I find I have missed several. Please put out notes — maybe just a notice on the blog — whenever you find yourself in need of something – furniture, kitchen stuff, whatever. Those of us who are trying to get rid of stuff would love to know it is going to someone who is treating it responsibly!

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