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Find your motivation: Shift your cleaning focus this spring

by Gemma Asel | March 15, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
The Samaritan Center's Ben DeFeo sorts through donated cleaning products Monday at the pantry. DeFeo and staff are grateful for the items received from area stores and donors. He explained that if a container is spilled or damaged and can't be sold, it's placed in a plastic bag and later donated to the center to be given to clients. (Julie Smith/News Tribune)

Are you struggling to find the motivation to start that spring cleaning you've been putting off?

Then maybe it's time to rewire the reason you work to clear out the home.

Instead of pushing yourself to throw things out for the sake of a clean, decluttered house, perhaps it's easier to motivate yourself when the outcome aids someone else.

Do you have extra shampoos or conditioners you thought you'd use, only to realize that they're still in your closet?

Or maybe you bought some canned food for a party, only to find out you bought too many.

Instead of letting those items gather dust in your cupboard, take them to a shelter for someone who could use them more than you.

Next time you're shuffling through unused canned and boxed foods in your pantry, do yourself a favor and take them to your nearest food pantry.

"Food is always a high priority item," said Ben DeFeo of the Samaritan Center. "And with the cost of food, that's getting more and more problematic."

The Samaritan Center appreciates all food donations, but is especially needing easy, fast meals which they refer to as kid-friendly items.

"Things like mac and cheese or SpaghettiOs-type stuff in a can, things that require minimal work," DeFeo said.

Canned fruit and protein are also in high demand, so if you have a few cans of chicken or tuna, think about donating them for those who need them more.

In addition to food staples, things to cook dinner in are just as important.

Major Justin Windell at The Salvation Army said they are always in need of kitchen essentials.

"One of the things that we always see is that when people are successful in the program and are getting ready to leave the program, they may have a place to stay, but they could always use some items to help supply their new house," Windell said.

He added: "So they'll need simple kitchen items like pots and pans, toasters, microwaves, cooking utensils. Things like that that are able to get them going and create a new foundation for their new place."

They ask that you ensure the items you are donating are in good condition.

If you're like the majority of adults, then you have a closet full of clothes that you haven't worn in at least a year but you hold onto "just in case."

Here's your sign to sift through those pants that don't fit right and the jacket you've never worn: If you haven't worn them yet, you probably never will.

But there's someone out there who will fit into that T-shirt you grew out of, or who will look better in that jacket you swore you'd like.

Just because it isn't your style doesn't mean someone else won't love it.

"We are switching over from our change of seasons here where, starting next month, we'll start taking spring and summer clothes," DeFeo said.

If you're wanting to make room for new clothes, it may be time to donate those bulky winter items like coats and sweaters.

"What we always do in the fall is a coat drive, and so as people are ending their winter season before they pack up a coat or something like that, they can always donate it now and we can hold onto it until our coat distribution," Windell said.

Stop piling those extra cleaners under your sink. Whether it's the smell you don't like, or you simply found something that suits your needs better, don't waste them by dumping them down the drain or tossing them in the trash.

Shelters will distribute them to people in need in your community.

"As long as it's an unopened item, for the most part, we take anything you use in the household," DeFeo said.

So gather up those new scrubbers, sprays and soaps and drop them off.

When people gather their items from the shelter, many need a way to carry them back.

If you've got extra reusable bags lying around, or even tote bags and suitcases, these are much needed at food pantries and shelters.

"Those are always in high demand because we have a lot of folks that take the bus or walk and our regular boxes and plastic shopping bags are not ideal for these folks," DeFeo said.

Windell said another item that helps people settle into their new homes are linens.

"Bedding and sleeping bags, things like that that we're able to give people who maybe aren't in our program but could use some extra items like that," he said. "Really, the biggest thing that we're finding is people are able to save up and get a new house or apartment or something like that but they just need to be able to furnish it as well."

Windell said the demographic they see at the Salvation Army shelter has begun to shift in recent years.

"Normally, we've always seen the single individuals; a single woman, a single father," Windell said. "One of the things that we've seen, really since the tornado, is we're seeing a lot of families. And that's one thing we're looking at doing is addressing that by possibly remodeling our shelter to be able to add more dedicated family rooms and things."

Volunteers and employees at shelters work hard to ensure the people they help everyday are able to enjoy the holidays without stress.

With Easter fast approaching, the Samaritan Center has begun to collect items to assemble Easter baskets for people in their community. If you've got extra little toys or candies, consider donating them for the Easter baskets this year.

DeFeo said they have plenty of baskets and grass, but they could use donations for the gifts inside the baskets, such as bubbles and candy.

Windell said the Salvation Army thrift store also accepts Christmas lights and other decorations to resell.

"So anything like that that you maybe don't want to store for the year, that's something that we could always use," Windell said. "And with our thrift store, when we sell items, that's funding that can go into our other programs as well."

If you or someone you know are in need of help, call the Salvation Army to see how they can help.

Donating is easy. The Samaritan Center's drop-off location is on the rear of the building and, during business hours, there will be someone there to take your donations.

"The doors are normally shut, but there's a buzzer there," DeFeo said.

The Salvation Army has two places you can donate: At the thrift store at 718 Michigan St. or at the Salvation Army shelter at 927 Jefferson St.

photo Karen Van Loo makes Easter baskets for children Monday while volunteering at the Samaritan Center. At a year, Van Loo is a relatively new volunteer and helps out where she can. (Julie Smith/News Tribune)
photo Giving hearts makes for good friends, as shown here with Jean Wankum, left, and Beverly McCasland, hug on Wankum's first day back following surgery. Wankum has been with the Samaritan Center since its inception, 1985, and McCasland has been volunteering at the food and clothing pantry for eight years. (Julie Smith/News Tribune)

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