Chat @ Care-giving: The Challenges of Giving

So, after delivering the medical equipment to DME Exchange, it was time to give away Mom’s clothing. Clothing is tough, especially when it came to her.  If the expression “clothes make the man” ever applied to anyone, it was my mom, even if she was a woman.  She labored over the purchase of each item, labored to pay for each item and labored over the care of each item.

I looked into consigning it, because Mom only bought the best, but consignment shops want you to have each item freshly cleaned.  I can understand why, but it would take a small fortune to dry clean eight wardrobe boxes, two suitcases and numerous boxes full of clothes.  There were a few pieces that were still in the dry cleaning bag and several more that still had the tags on them, but if I was donating, I planned to donate it all.

I must say that I was impressed with the business end of this transaction. I found the Salvation Army on the internet, called the 1-800 number and soon had an appointment for a pick up. Since they were meeting me at the storage facility, they even offered to call an hour ahead, to give me a chance to get there. I was also given a number to call on the morning of the appointment to get an estimated window for the pick up.

Pick up day seemed to be going well. I called that morning and got the 1-3 time slot. They called me an hour before they came, which was within the window and showed up in the time frame they promised. The truck was very nice and the gentlemen were very polite.

Then things didn’t go so well. I told the original person I spoke to I had eight wardrobe boxes of clothes. In case you didn’t know, wardrobe boxes cost between $15 and $25 according to where you get them and what size they are. If someone is making you a donation of eight wardrobe boxes, chances are the clothes inside weren’t on the clearance rack at Target or Walmart. My mom was a clothes horse with a discount at Dillard’s. She’d retired from there. The boxes I got held between twenty and thirty outfits and I’d say the average cost of the good stuff was about $250 on sale with Mom’s discount. Of course, not all the boxes had that much value, but even the casual clothes robes were nice.

The truck driver opened the back of his truck and it was readily apparent he hadn’t been given any packing lessons. Things were tossed in there willy nilly. I’ll admit, some of the stuff looked as if it should have been taken to the dumpster rather than picked up for donation, but that was none of my business. I hesitantly asked him if he thought he had enough room for my stuff, using an outflung arm to encompass half of a large storage unit. “Sure,” he said, as he tossed the first wardrobe box on top of the other donations.

I nearly had a heart attack. I’ll admit. I’m a clothes horse, too. My mother was half my size and much more conservative in her taste, but I appreciated what she had. As the abused box sailed in the air, I envisioned the hangers coming off the bar inside, snagging button holes and tearing them. Everything we were donating was in pristine condition.  I hated to think of lace getting ripped, sweaters snagged and everything wrinkled.

I swallowed down my fury and said, “I’m sure people donate a lot of junk, but…”  I gave him my estimate of the value.  As he tossed another box in, he said, “They have to come out of the box at the processing center anyway.”  I wanted to punch out his lights, but he didn’t know me and he didn’t know Mom.  He obviously didn’t know how to pack a truck or appreciate the value of what he was handling either.  I gritted my teeth and hoped something in the boxes would be worth salvaging when they got to the center.

After treating my donations like two cents worth of dog excrement, they turned politely to me and said, “We appreciate your donation.”  Oh yeah, which one?  The one I had before you got here or the one you’re going to take to the center. People always hear what you do, not what you say.

I suppose the driver and his sidekick were part of the Salvation Army’s rehabilitation program.  Well, I suggest they rehabilitate their attitude towards the donations.  For one thing, the items they pick up will be of greater value if they aren’t damaged during the pick up and transportation.  For another, maybe the rehabilitatees might have more appreciation of their own possessions if they’re taught to respect the donations that come in.  And finally, it will take a very long time for for me to think about donating to the Salvation Army  – if ever.

If you know of a place that really appreciates donations of good clothing, I’d like to know about them!



2 thoughts on “Chat @ Care-giving: The Challenges of Giving

  1. Jane – That’s terrible. The last time we used Salvation Army they acted as if we were doing them a favor and decided we wouldn’t be back. From that point on, if the clothing is mine, I call the local woman’s shelter and ask if they can use any of what I’m ready to donate. While I don’t have as many clothes as your mother, I was taught it’s better to buy high quality than cheap material. I always let the women’s shelter have first pick on whatever we are donating. They also help women set up housekeeping, etc. and are always on the hunt for used household items. Tom does the same with men’s shelter. So far we’ve had good luck with them. If something is large and we can’t or don’t want to move it, we call The boys and girls club and they have certain days they pick up in our area. They are also nice to work with.

  2. The reason I chose the Salvation Army was because Bill has been doing some work with them . Nothing on the donation end of the business, more like credit counseling and savings plans for their clients. As in avoid using credit and don’t spend every penny you get and the joys of tithing. He’s been very impressed with the organization from that point of view, but he too was very frustrated by this debacle. I wrote them a letter for all the good it might do.

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