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 | By Michelle DiFranco

Why Not Donate Something New?

Laundry is at the top of my list of most daunting household chores. But there are times when I feel guilty for complaining about the washing, drying and folding of all our clothes, when there are folks out there who don’t even have a shirt on their back. So when I find myself whining about the piles of clothing and bedding to wash, I grab a donations bin and start filling it up. 

Into the bin go the clearly worn shirts and obviously faded blankets. Good riddance to the tattered outdated textiles I don’t need and won’t have to wash anymore. There. I got rid of stuff, and I helped those in need. That should make me feel good!

But it doesn’t always. In fact, sometimes I stare at the dog-eared pile of hand-me-downs, and I feel I haven’t really sacrificed much at all. I look at the nice articles I decided to keep because they weren’t worn out yet, and ponder that I haven’t used some of them in over a year – and likely won’t for another. I wonder if I haven’t completely missed the point of donating stuff in the first place. What sacrifice is it to give what isn’t worth keeping? Am I truly giving a gift, or merely allowing someone to pick from my trash?

When I picture a family in need wearing our worn-out, outdated clothes, the image can make me sad.

I am not trying to say we shouldn’t give our older clothes to the needy. What a shame it would be if the clothes went into the trash instead of into the hands of someone who could use them. But, at the same time, I know I have not parted with anything I really considered fine. And if it’s not hard to part with, is it really a great act of charity to give it away? I find that a greater sense of joy and satisfaction comes when I’ve given something nice and new to someone who could use it. 

So this leads me to a recent idea. If I am collecting items for the poor, but don’t feel I’m giving them much beyond what is already tired and worn out, then I up the ante. I’ve decided it would be better for them (and for me) to give or craft something new to go in with the other used garments. I want to make certain that I am including something that is new, beautiful and valuable.

But what to give? What item can I safely assume any family would want? Years ago, I received a handmade, tied fleece blanket at my baby shower before our daughter was born. It is still the go-to blanket when our kids want to wrap up and be cozy. It is a symbol of comfort and family for me. So, I thought to myself, if there is one new item I can contribute each time that I know to be valuable for any family, this is it. These blankets are easily made at home, and that adds to the satisfaction because they are not just something new, but also something handmade.

Now, when I picture that same family using what we gave them, the image no longer makes me sad. It brings me joy! 

Tied fleece blanket

  • Two 50”x 60” pieces of fleece fabric (for standard-sized throw)
  • Pair of sharp scissors
  • 12 or more binder clips
  • Cardstock trimmed to 4”x4”
  • Cardstock trimmed to 1”x4” 
  • Ruler

Lay two pieces of fabric on top of each other evenly (with the wrong sides facing each other). Using a ruler, trim any excess fabric. Use binder clips to hold edges of fabric together, until cuts are made. Using the 4”x4” piece of cardstock as a guide, cut a 4” square out of each corner of the lined-up fabric.

Create fringe. Using the 1”x4” piece of cardstock as a guide, cut slits 4” deep every 1” on all sides of fabric. Tie the matching 4” slits into a double knot. Continue this all the way around the lined-up fabric until your blanket is complete.