Saving Time: Cutting Clutter with a "Donation Station"

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by Robin

Try as you might to avoid it, stuff piles up, especially if you have kids. Outgrown clothes. Underloved toys. Clothes that fit you before those children came along. It's just plain easier to get out from under life's clutter when you set up a "Donation Station".

A "Donation Station" just pretty much just what it sounds like: a place where you put the stuff that you intend to donate. Donating things you no longer need is such a great way to clear up space in your home and give your old stuff a new life with someone else.

I have been using this system ever since my daughter was born in 2004. That's when the stuff really started to burst into our lives.

Only recently have I had a catchy name for it. I learned the sweet moniker "Donation Station" from Organizing Junkie (a great organizing blog!). It just sounds way cooler that what we were calling it before: "put-it-in-that-basket-you-know-the-one-we-put-stuff-in-for-donating". If you choose to call your spot that, you're welcome to do so, no credit to me is required.

Here's our Donation Station:

It's a simple, old wicker basket with a lid. You could use anything though: a designated garbage can or a plastic tub would work just as well. It doesn't matter really what it looks like, unless you're keeping it out in the open.

It doesn't even need a lid. I like having a top on mine because then my children don't notice the tiny old clothes I am trying to get rid of. They tend to re-fall in love with the stuff that I most want to break-up with, even if they've forgotten about it for months.

I like to line it a garbage bag, so it's quick to bundle up and send out. Experience has taught me to use an opaque garbage bag for my donatables. Experience came in the form of a sobbing little girl who saw the annoying musical duck toy at the bottom of a clear bag as it was being carried away. Solid bags allow the forgotten toys to stay forgotten even as they sit on the porch waiting for pick-up.

I keep a handful of fresh bags in the bottom of the bin, so they're always ready to use. (It's an old trick I learned in my high school job as a church custodian.)

I keep my Donation Station in the little area attached to my laundry room (I couldn't get a good shot of it in it's natural environment. It's a weird shaped, dark, little spot. I haven't laid eyes on him, but I pretty sure Gollum lives there).

I find the laundry room is the best place to have our Donation Station, because I can toss the outgrown clothes in when they're clean. This, in turn, makes it better for the thrift shop to sell.

When my Donation Station is full I just call a charity household item pick-up service. Usually, it's the Diabetes Clothesline. It doesn't get any more convenient that this. You just put the stuff out in the morning and it is out our you life and into someone else's.

The Donation Station works for us, but I wonder, what you do. How do you handle outgrown clothes and toys?


  1. Speaking as the organizing-challenged partner is this marriage - I love the donation station. I actually take things out of my closet rotation now when there time is done. Prior to this, I had t-shirts from Grade 8 still kicking around.


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