Want What You’ve Got! (thrift)

English: The Community Closet Thrift StoreI’m walking into the consignment store with Groupon in hand.

I spent $10 to buy the opportunity to get $20 worth of merchandise – an instant 50% off sale! I don’t really need anything, but that’s never stopped me before.

Searching through the racks of gently worn clothing, I realize that I’m always attracted to the same items – black pants (though I always wear my favorite pair). Shoes (to add to the ridiculous number already gracing my closet). Dresses (even though I rarely wear them). Jewelry (for when I dress up – see dresses). Purses (see jewelry).

Nothing that I’m looking at is even remotely a need, yet that Groupon burns a hole in my pocket. I settle on a pair of khaki pants – similar to my favorites which have long since been laid to rest in their hole-y state – and a pair of black shorts with lots of pockets (for traveling). I avoid the interesting jewelry display at the counter because by now, I know I’m weak. If it glimmers with potential at all, I’m afraid I’ll buy it.

Because it’s affordable. Because I can.

I’m reminded of something I have been known to tell my children while shopping together – “just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean you need it.” Such wise words for the younger generation, right? For a fleeting moment, I wonder where I came up with that, since I so rarely subscribe to that way of thinking myself.

I don’t like to shop retail and I simply cannot stomach paying full price for anything. Consignment stores are great because the clothing is in good shape and probably recently laundered. Thrift stores are amazing because my purchases help to support a cause, which makes me feel better about buying all of that inexpensive stuff that I just don’t need.

It’s safe to say that shopping is my preferred form of entertainment.

But when I look at the stacks of jeans in my closet (which I forgot to mention earlier – I always look for jeans while shopping, too) and the piles of t-shirts beside them, I’m convicted by this season we’re in and suddenly I don’t Want What I’ve Got.

In Matthew 16:26 Jesus reminds us that “it is worth nothing for you to have the whole world if you yourself are lost. You could never pay enough to buy back your life.” (ERV)

The Message words it this way, and these words are a fitting reply to my hungry, bargain-hunting soul:

“What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself?”

Ouch.

The truth hurts.

Today I am compelled to shop my own closet for entertainment and to avoid adding to the excess already found therein.

Today I am motivated to weed out those things I don’t wear or don’t really like so that I can donate them to my church’s upcoming clothing exchange event.

Today I admit that no matter how found I am, there are hints of a lost soul being dropped here and there – hints that I need to take seriously and respond faithfully to.

Because I Want What I’ve Got in Christ more than what I’ve got in my closet.

Consign that.

Daily Questions: Where do you find duplicates and triplicates of purchases in your home? My husband has jokingly (but rightly) told me that I could open a clothing store with what’s in my own closet. Identify the excess, as I am doing today, and do something meaningful with it! Donate it to a thrift store or charity that you support (shoe collector? Check out Soles4Souls donation programs: http://www.soles4souls.org/ ). Give it to someone who needs or would love what you’ve got! Consider starting a seasonal exchange at your church or even with a group of friends. I’d love to share what our church is doing! Email me for details: brita@pinkshoesministries.me

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Christmas in July (cause)

Charity in the dictionary

Charity in the dictionary (Photo credit: HowardLake)

There are many ways for those of us who give gifts at Christmas to bless both the receiver and the one from whom we obtained the gift! Worthy causes exist all around us because of the broken world we live in. This Christmas, why not give strategically to benefit as many recipients as you can?

Secondhand Joy!

Decide early on (now would actually be good!) to purchase your gifts from local charity stores. My little community has thrift stores which benefit a wide range of agencies and organizations – Animal Friends, Humane Society, a local women’s shelter, the Salvation Army, Disabled American Veterans, support and education for families affected by autism... Do your homework and decide which cause will benefit from your Christmas shopping this season!

Do be aware that secondhand shopping is a little different from retail:

  • Best to start with a list of people rather than a list of items that you want to buy, then let things surprise you as you search for treasures.
  • It may take multiple visits to the same shops for the right gifts to surface – be patient (but know that the selection changes often and unpredictably as donations are received).
  • Combine theme-shopping with support of a cause for a way to give gifts with stories behind them. Search for things like funny t-shirts, jewelry boxes, antique mirrors, favorite book titles, mugs (to give with homemade drink mix) or glassware (to give with a bottle of your favorite wine).

Don’t underestimate the potential of thrift and charity stores to contain really nice, comparable-to-retail gifts! I’ve often found brand new appliances and clothing with store tags still attached, along with some well-preserved and very unique glassware and jewelry.

Group Giving

You’ve all heard of families where the adults have gone to a lottery-system of gifting, right? Everyone’s name goes into a hat and the name you withdraw is the one you will be gifting this year. Usually there is a dollar amount assigned, so that all gifts are in the same value-ballpark…

I have a friend whose family has taken this kind of system to a new and charitable level! Everyone’s name goes into the hat, but only one name comes out. A dollar amount is decided upon, and everyone gives their money to the lucky winner! This person is empowered to select a charity organization on behalf of the family. He or she does their homework and chooses a cause that matters to them personally. Whether the organization receives the money, or the money is used to buy items needed by the chosen cause, is up to the designated family member to decide. On Christmas morning, the adults in the family open a single wrapped gift which reveals the details of their family gift transaction!

Charitable Retail

Many organizations now offer goods for purchase that support their charity as an organization by providing jobs for individual beneficiary-craftsmen & women behind the scenes. It’s important to research these companies so that you know how much of your purchase goes to the business aspects of the charity and how much is returned to the craftsmen and women, but this kind of giving can be a powerful use of your gifting dollars. Here are a few websites to get you started:

Rahab’s Rope – Jewelry & accessories (you can even host an in-home product party through this organization that buys women out of the sex trade in India)

Equal Exchange – Fair trade coffee, tea & chocolate

One Hope –┬áSocial impact wine, with a portion of each bottle’s sale price going to specific and/or buyer-selected charities

Justice Ventures, International –┬áThis site offers products made by women who have been rescued from slavery and sex trafficking, with profits from sales working to buy more women into freedom

Some retail chain stores have product lines that support specific charitable efforts of their organization. Kohls Cares products support causes like kids’ health and education and breast cancer research, with a nice variety of inexpensive items offered online.

Charitable Gifts Bazaar

Holiday bazaars are offered at churches and in communities everywhere before Christmas – why not work to plan an event where each vendor sells products that support worthwhile causes? Invite organizations like the ones above to showcase their giftable items, but also encourage those who craft and create locally to donate items whose sales price (or a portion thereof) will be given to a cause. The details are up to you, but I’m certain that shoppers would support your charitable efforts!

Imagine the difference you could make around the world simply by choosing to give for a cause this Christmas!

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