The Goodwill Insider: Holidays – Donating and Being Grateful for What We’ve Got

black pashmina drapped on mannequinA black pashmina. The woman had it in her hands along with some trinkets from housewares, but her hands were running through the frilled ends of the black pashmina. She remarked how lovely it was and what a wonderful gift it would be for her young daughter.

I recognized it instantly, because it was mine.

I had just donated to the Goodwill store myself, only an hour ago. You see, there’s a story here. This specific black pashmina, an unwanted Christmas gift rebuffed by a too picky “that’s not what I want” friend, had been with me for 2 and half years. I had taken it back, after swearing to only give gift cards to her from then on. I kept it neatly folded on a shelf in my room. Christmas came and went, along with New Years, then Valentine’s Day, then spring with its decidedly un-pashmina weather. And each time I had glanced to look up to my shelf, perhaps relaxing with a cup of coffee in hand, I’d feel the ping of a guilty pang. It was still there, unused, waiting for its turn to be worn, like some kind of sad and forgotten fashion orphan.

Then this morning, before I came to work at Goodwill, I found myself rummaging through the closet thinking “WHY do I had so much STUFF?” I rescued the black pashmina off my shelf, in one of those “this room will be clean!” caffeine fueled a.m. moments we all have on occasion. Then it hit me: donate. I threw the black pashmina into a plastic bag, alongside vintage dresses that no longer fit. Hey! don’t judge me, have you ever eaten a cronut? I rest my case. I also got rid of some of the ugliest Holiday Sweaters you’ve ever seen in hopes someone would make use of them.

The black pashmina sat with me on the rush hour subway, hustled through Port Authority in my jumbled plastic bag, sandwiched with me between sleepy eyed commuters. It narrowly dodged a spilled coffee, walked down the street with me, and finally, through the door, and into a blue bin marked “donations.” And now, a woman with a wide smile was taking it away.

For many, donating is an act – no matter how small – of letting go. Maybe for you it was the dress you wore on your first date or those jeans you wore through high school and you swore you’d hold on to, thinking “maybe size 2 in my 30’s IS possible.” In my case, it was a black pashmina from a disappointing Holiday from long ago. But, as this woman’s eyes sparkled, there was a sense of being thankful. Thankful I had let go of something. In less than an hour’s time, another person had taken it to a new home to a daughter, who no doubt would wear it with love.

This end of holiday season, instead of a tutorial on place settings or how to wear layers, I encourage you to do the same. Be grateful for the things you have and share that spirit of giving, either by donating your stuff to Goodwill or volunteering locally. Or be the lucky lady who snagged my New Kids on the Block Christmas sweater. Listen: the sweater needs batteries, but it still lights up. So trust me, you scored big time!

Get that holiday spirit kicked into high gear with a closet clean out, and while you’re at it, stop by Goodwill’s blog this Friday when I tackle the fun stuff in a “Post New Years Eve Closet bootcamp!” Till then, see you at the counter!

photo credit:

Brandee, the manager of Goodwill’s 72nd Street boutique, is also a writer, performance artist, thrift fashion and DIY enthusiast. Brandee’s projects have been featured in   Bill Cunningham’s New York Times style column, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week and INC. Magazine. She loves French-press coffee and lives the designer thrift lifestyle bursting onto the fashion forward streets of the New York City she calls home.

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