Last month, I posted that I was participating in a 30 Day Blogging Challenge hosted by a business coach that I admire, Sandra Martini. I knew it would indeed be a challenge to draft 30 posts in 30 days. I am thrilled that I met the challenge!

Here were the rules:

  • The 30 Day Blogging Challenge officially began at midnight on September 9th and ends at 11:59pm on October 8th.
  • Each post must be at least 100 words.
  • You could skip some days and post several times on others — as long as you reach 30 posts by the end of the challenge period. (Thank goodness for this rule!)

What did I gain from the 30 Day Blogging Challenge? It forced me to blog often, certainly a lot more often than I would have done independently. It helped me to develop and stretch my blog “muscles.” I found myself constantly thinking of ideas to share. Blogging so often allowed me to share great content, as well as re-purpose existing content. In addition, by posting so often, the content is always new, thus resulting in increased search engine optimization and web traffic. Lastly, by sharing my expertise so often, the 30 Day Blogging Challenge helped to build my credibility as an organizing expert. All in all, not too shabby.

While I am glad the official 30 Day Blogging Challenge is complete, I can honestly say that it was a wonderful experience, and one that I would recommend to anyone with a blog. Try it … you might like the results you get!

DSC03611I not only love to travel, I love to plan to travel. I can spend hours researching locales and lodging choices, preparing itineraries, packing, etc. Therefore, it seems only fitting to share some of my well-honed travel planning tips so that you can benefit from my travel planning addiction, and enjoy an organized travel experience. The tips that follow may be common sense, but are not always commonly applied.

  • Create a Personalized Packing List – Create a packing list on your computer so that you can revise it constantly as you travel and realize what you forgot and would have liked with you, and what you could have left behind. My packing list is organized into the following major categories: Essentials, For Business, For the Beach, For Overseas Travel, For Active Vacations. It is then further broken down into subcategories that are specific enough to easily grab and check off each item without too much forethought (and certainly without that nagging feeling of forgetting something). My list has been customized over years of traveling. Make your list work for you and your family by personalizing it to match your needs.
  • Freshen Up Your Suitcases – Air out your bags before you pack. There is nothing worse than putting clean clothes in a stale smelling bag. (Hint: A scented dryer sheet or lavender sachet can work wonders.)
  • Check Luggage Guidelines – Go online and check your airline’s luggage guidelines to ensure that your carry on will fit, and that you will not be charged extra if you exceed the weight restriction.
  • Pre-Pack and Weigh – Print out your packing list in advance, and start laying out items so that you can get a visual snapshot of what you are bringing. It is wise to pre-pack in advance, especially with today’s strict airline luggage guidelines. I even recommend putting the items in the suitcase and weighing it. Better to know if you will make the cut at home when you can still remove things than to suffer an unexpected luggage fee at the airport.
  • Pack Extra Storage Bags – Pack a few storage bags for small items, like shoes, etc. Make sure that one is waterproof in case you need to pack wet bathing suits on the trip back home.
  • Get Your Gadgets in Order – Empty memory cards, and charge your phone and camera before you leave home. Consolidate power cords, chargers and extra batteries in your carry-on.
  • Refill Prescriptions – Refill prescription medications in advance, and pack in your carry-on in their original packaging in order to pass muster with the TSA. This also provides you with an easy way to remember the exact specifications in the rare event that the medication gets destroyed (melts in the sun, gets wet, etc.) or you are delayed longer than expected, and need to arrange a refill while still away from home.
  • Copy Important Documents – Carry duplicates of your passport and visa (if traveling outside of the country), travel itinerary, and any other vital documents that you need for safe travel, and keep them in a different location than the originals while traveling. Consider also emailing electronic copies to yourself or storing at a secure online site.
  • Give Your Wallet a Diet – Pare down the contents of your wallet to only what you need during travel. Only bring essential documents, such as driver’s license, medical insurance card (check to see if you have coverage if going outside of the country), passport, and credit cards.
  • Alert Credit Card Companies – Contact your bank and credit cards companies before you depart and inform them that you will be traveling, so that they will not be alarmed by out-of-town charges and put a security hold on your account.
  • Inventory the Contents of Your Suitcase – Take photos of your clothes, shoes, and jewelry, which will serve as documentation if your luggage gets lost or stolen. Download the shots onto your home computer or upload them to an online site just in case. It may seem like overkill (don’t all insurance and risk management measures seem so unless you need them?), but it will save you a lot of stress and money if your luggage gets lost or stolen, as well as peace of mind while traveling.

Now, you are prepared to travel. You can relax knowing that the essentials are in order. Enjoy, explore, and make great vacation memories. Bon voyage!

This post is a re-print of an article I wrote that was published by Balance magazine. Balance was a great, but short-lived, magazine that focused on achieving balance through organization. (Photos by Megan Joplin.)

It is difficult enough for one person to be organized and maintain that state of organization on a daily basis. Now imagine being thrust into a living situation with a person you have never met before, who is not a relative or even a friend. A person with different sleeping, grooming, eating, and studying habits, who may be from a different background or culture, and who has a different schedule and interests to boot. Enter the college roommate. When described in the abstract, the college roommate situation reads like a recipe for disaster. Yet, thousands of college students manage to live successfully and harmoniously every year with a roommate who, just days before the beginning of the semester, they had no contact with. Often times, this exercise in living is a wonderful entrance into the “real world” for college students and can serve as an example of the importance of compromise and flexibility that will serve the student in years to come.

Two such young women decided to work with a professional organizer and life coach, hoping to not only improve their living situation, but their overall lives and habits as well. Let their experience serve as an inspiration to all roommates, college or otherwise, who find themselves living in close quarters with a person they’ve never shared a space with before.

Group photo by fireplace LM, Marta & Maria Aug 03Meet Marta and Maria: So Alike and Yet So Different 

Marta and Maria found out they were each other’s roommates about one week prior to heading to college. They had never met before.  In many respects, Marta and Maria have a lot in common. Both entered Pace University as freshman and reside on the Briarcliff, New York campus, in the suburbs of New York City. Both attend Pace on a soccer scholarship, are interested in pursuing a career in human services, maintain good grades, and consider themselves family oriented. Yet, there are many differences between the two young women. Marta not only plays soccer for Pace, but also basketball, which forces her to engage in some serious time management. Marta’s family lives within an hour’s drive from campus, which means being able to head home every two weeks to do laundry. Maria isn’t so lucky, as her family resides in Nashville, Tennessee. Maria shared a room back home with her older sister, while Marta never had to share her space before. Although in the same year of college, they are almost an entire year apart. Most importantly, however, is the fact that the two have very different habits when it comes to organizing and maintaining their space and lives.

When I first visited Marta and Maria, I was struck by how small their dorm room is, but isn’t that par for the course in college? What separates organizing a college dorm room from a traditional house bedroom is that the college dorm room must function as a lot more than just a place to sleep. If you split the dorm room into zones, you realize how multi-functional the space must be. There is the sleeping zone (bed and dresser), the dressing zone (armoire style closets), the food zone (mini-refrigerator and dry food storage), the studying zone (desk and bookshelf), and the hanging out zone (television and chair). That is an awful lot of stuff to cram into one space, but then you also need to double almost everything in order to accommodate two people. It’s no wonder college students are often disorganized – there’s too much stuff in one little space!

Maria is a self-professed procrastinator. She likes things clean but let’s the chores go until she cannot stand it anymore (sound familiar, all you procrastinators out there?). In fact, she will let her laundry pile up until she runs out of undies (if she runs out of clothing such as sweatshirts, however, she often steals Marta’s!). She admits that this stresses her out and she’d like to “change her ways.” Marta does more of the general straightening of the room on a daily basis, while Maria actually does more of the cleaning, such as sweeping and mopping the floors. Neither really likes to or has time to cook, so they usually eat in the cafeteria, but they do keep some food staples in their room (although not near the fridge, but we’ll get to that later).

Doing Better Than They Think But There Is Room For Improvement …

So how are they doing? Not bad. Not bad at all. For two people who have never lived together before, Marta and Maria have managed to figure out a way to make it work. Instead of working against each other’s weaknesses, they compensate for each other. Heck, some married couples could learn from these two! But before we give them a freshman-student-living-together-harmoniously-award, let’s focus on what can be improved.

The actual room set up and design is working. However, Marta and Maria have a huge bean bag chair in the middle of their room. When asked if either ever really sit on it, the answer is once in awhile. Do guests sit on it? Sometimes. How often do they have guests? Not that often. Thus, we discussed storing the chair under Maria’s bed where there was adequate space. That would give a sense of openness to the small room. When guests drop by, they can just take beanie out from under the bed. Interestingly, once we discussed moving the bean bag chair from its precious center room location, the two confided during a later visit that they have been using it more often! Sometimes, when faced with the prospect of purging or relocating an item, a person realizes its value and begins to appreciate it and use it. At least now, however, when it is not being used, it has a “home” to go to that is a bit more out of the way.

Another design flaw of the room organization is that the dry food and cooking supplies are stored on the sole shelving unit across the room from the small fridge. I recommended moving the food and cooking supplies to an open area next to the fridge, which is now unused space. It is a narrow space but there is a lot of room vertically. Often times, vertical space is sorely underutilized and can provide the answer to a storage problem.  So we used a narrow, but tall, clear plastic drawer unit with 5 smaller drawers on top, and 2 deep drawers on the bottom. All of the food easily fit in, as well as the few cooking supplies. Now, they have an actual “food zone.” An additional advantage to this reorganization is that it freed up the shelves where the food used to be for storing things like videos, CDs, photo albums, and their toiletry carts (the bathrooms are down the hall, which means carrying toiletries back and forth). We stored those items in pretty open wicker baskets of varying sizes with removable cotton muslin lining for ease of cleaning. The design provides easy access as the baskets are open, and add charm to the space. We used a matching, but smaller, wicker basket to store extra videos that they watch more frequently on top of the television.

The clothes inside their small armoire closets are pretty well organized. However, their shoes are actually on top of their armoires. They claim they can easily see and reach the shoes up there, and they do not want them in the bottom of the closets so the shoes can air out properly after use (remember we are talking athletes here…). One thing organizers know to do is to work “with” the client, so we left the shoes up there as the system works for them.

As for Maria and her laundry, I recommended setting aside one night per week after soccer practice as “laundry night”. Using positive association, I offered up Thursday night as she can put in her laundry before Friends begins, watch the half hour episode, and then switch the clothes to the dryer. She can then take an hour or so to check and reply to e-mail, and then fold the clothes while listening to she and Marta’s favorite radio show, the Delilah show (which they bonded over when they first moved in together and realized they were both huge fans) while winding down before bed. Using positive association will help Maria not dread laundry, but instead think of it in association with fun television shows, e-mailing friends and family, and winding down with music and perhaps a chat with Marta. Having her laundry done every week will also avoid the pile up that stresses her out and causes her to run out of clothing. She gave this a try and said it did help somewhat. I reminded her that it takes time to make new habits, so she plans to keep at it. I have no doubt she will improve her laundry situation as she is motivated to change this behavior, despite her tendencies towards procrastination.

What Does the Future Hold?Group photo LM, Marta & Maria Aug 03

Marta and Maria plan to continue living together as roommates in their sophomore year. They already heard that they are moving to a different dorm. Their actual room will be smaller (yikes!), but it will be part of a suite with another room for two other students, and a common living room and bathroom for all four to share. I have no doubt that they will make the smaller space work, and I plan to check in on them to see whether they have been able to maintain the organized systems we put in place. And when I do, I imagine they will whip out the bean bag chair from under the bed for me to sit on. After all, I may be their professional organizer, but I am also their guest.

There’s still time to DECIDE to be Organized! The 6-week group coaching program starts tomorrow night, October 6th, and runs until November 10th.  I have a great group of participants already registered that are ready to work, share, and make changes to their homes, offices, and lives.  Come join us!

Why a Group ‘Coaching’ Program?

Coaching is designed to assist individuals in creating and implementing specific action plans. Coaches use advanced communication skills to help the client create a successful personal and professional life.

As a trained mediator, I guide clients to successful results through motivation and encouragement, without judgment. The focus is on asking skillful questions designed to help participants define and achieve their goals.

But don’t worry! I do more than ask questions. I will also have my certified professional organizer ‘expert’ hat on throughout the program, offering tried-and-true tools and tricks based on my 7 years of experience working with hundreds of clients to overcome their organizing issues.

Each week, you will get 90 minutes of information-packed instruction, along with Q&A. Participants can ask me their questions and get personalized, informative, and effective answers. During the teleclasses, you’ll get an energizing combination of practical tips and suggestions, plus techniques to deal with the emotional side of disorganization and clutter.

But don’t take my word for it! Here is a testimonial from a past workshop participant:

I cannot tell you how you have really changed my life. I know it sounds corny, but I was in such a bad place before your workshop. You got me thinking of how to use your methods for every aspect of my life and what a difference! I must say, your workshop really helped me put things into perspective and prioritize my activities. I don’t have to do it all at once. What a relief! It’s amazing how organizing your life gives such peace of mind!”  ~ Rosemary Reo, Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES, Yorktown Heights, NY

Are You Ready to DECIDE to be Organized?

There will be 6 (six) 90-minute calls in a row on Tuesday evenings from October 6 to November 10, 2009, each starting at 7:30pm EST. Registration is only $199! Enrolling is easy. Follow this link. 

You have nothing to lose — except maybe some clutter, overwhelm, and stress!

Time management is a major issue for many people.  And it’s not getting any better.  Experts estimate that during the last 25 years, our leisure time has declined by 37% while our workweek has increased by a full day.  The American’s Use of Time Project at the University of Maryland revealed that the average American spends more than 20 hours per week on housework.

Even if you are an otherwise excellent time manager, a disorganized physical environment will steal a large amount of time and energy from your day.  USA Today reports that Americans collectively waste 9 million hours every day looking for misplaced items.  

Here are some small time management tips that can help make a big impact:

  • Take 15 – At the end of every day at the office, take 15 minutes to put things in order.  Put away files that are no longer in use, plug in to do’s on your daily list from your master one, take out files to be used the next day, etc. That way, you come into a clean ready-to-work environment.  At home before you go to bed at night, spend 15 minutes picking up stray items and putting them back into their proper homes.
  • Prepare for Your Morning the Night Before – Prepare for your morning the night before.  Gather everything you will need, such as your pocketbook, briefcase, knapsack, keys, etc. If you have a “home” for these things near your entryway, you will never have a problem scurrying around for them when you are leaving the house.  Choose your clothes and set them out in a convenient location for dressing.  Get out what you need to quickly and easily prepare breakfast.  And be sure to pack your lunch the night before also!
  • Set up a Gift Zone – Buy cards in advance for many types of occasions and even consider some generic gifts for house warming, birthdays, and baby showers.  Keep the items together in a gift, card, and gift-wrapping station with everything at your fingertips if you need to write out a card, choose a gift and wrap it.
  • Record TV Shows – Turn on the television only when your show is scheduled to begin and turn it off when it is over.  Turning the television off 1 hour per week gives you 52 extra hours in a year.  Some people record shows even if they are home to be able to avoid commercials and not interrupt themselves but save the show for when it is most convenient for them to watch.
  • Listen and Learn– Listen to audio books or podcasts for your commute (learn a foreign language, work related, novels, etc.), or consider carrying a mini-recorder to dictate work assignments or even personal ideas.
  • Portable Reading – Carry a “to read” file with you for those times when you are waiting on line, waiting at the doctor’s office, on the subway, etc.  If the reading material sits in a pile at home, it hardly ever gets read!
  • Delivery Anyone? – See what services offer delivery, like office supplies, dry cleaning, food, etc.
  • Organized Errands – Run all of your errands at one time, starting farthest from your house and ending up closest to home.
  • Call & Confirm – Call ahead before going to the store to see if they have what you need, call to confirm appointments before you show up, call to see if the restaurant has seating.  Save yourself unnecessary drives.

“Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.” ~ William Feather

When the economy is slow, many business owners tend to pull back. Some even throw in the towel. But what if you change your mindset, and look at this recession as an opportunity to “reinvest” in your business? If you have funds set aside for slow periods, good for you. If not, then all you have on your side now is time. If business really is slow, chances are you aren’t working as much. This may be the perfect time to do some of the business-building activities that you never have the time to do when you are too busy working in the business. This may also be a golden opportunity for professional development, reflection, and brainstorming.

If time is on your side, here are some ways to reinvest in your business during the downturn in the economy. They will stimulate and rejuvenate your business. When the economy picks up again, and you get hit with a ton of new business, you will be in a better place than before.

  1. Incorporate Your Business – If you have toyed with the idea of incorporating or becoming an LLC, now is a great time to do so. You will be able to research which business entity makes the most sense, work with a business coach or attorney, and file the necessary paperwork. Come boom time, you will have all of your ducks in order.

  2. Hire an Overqualified Employee or Try Out an Independent Contractor – If you have been grappling with the idea of hiring an employee or independent contractor for a while, now is an ideal time. Due to the many layoffs, there is a large pool of qualified professionals just waiting for a career opportunity to come their way. Take the time to interview properly and try someone out before you get so busy again that it becomes a distant and fleeting thought.

  3. Familiarize Yourself with Tax Deductions – You just filed your taxes, but still never took the time to really learn which tax deductions can be taken. Even if you have an accountant, a basic understanding of what deductions you can take will help you track expenses better throughout the year. Take the time to learn how to maximize business deductions and keep more money in your pocket when business starts booming again.

  4. Get Testimonials From Clients – We all know how powerful testimonials can be, but when many business owners get busy, they forget to ask. Do it now, while you have the time. Then put those testimonials to good use on your website and in business marketing materials.

  5. Get Out and Network – When business owners are crazy busy with work, they often do not make the time to network and feed the funnel. This is a great time to attend live networking events with chambers of commerce, business networking groups, and the like. Be visible, so when the money starts flowing again, your business will be top of mind.

  6. Develop a New Product, Program, or Service – If you have been itching to add on a new product, program, or service, develop and test it now. When business picks up again, your new offering will be in place and ready to go.

  7. Attend a lectureSharpen Your Skills – We all know how important professional development is to success, but many entrepreneurs short change their professional development when business is booming. If time is abundant, attend a conference, or take a teleclass or webinar. There is a plethora of offerings available in every price range nowadays. This may be the time to get certified in your area of expertise, take continuing education courses, or just explore some educational options that would be beneficial to you and your business.

  8. Audit Your Business – Do you have adequate insurance in place? Is your client contract in need of some revamping? Are there any policies or procedures that need tweaking? This is a great time to examine your business to see if there are any areas that need improving and get to work on them.

  9. Update Your Marketing Materials – Have you been eager to create a new logo, redesign your website, or get new professional photographs taken? The time for this could not be better. Due to the recession, there are deals to be had. Approach professionals that can assist you with these projects. You may be pleasantly surprised at the rates you can secure.

  10. Keep Advertising – The first thing most business owners do when the economy takes a nosedive is to stop advertising. Don’t jump on the bandwagon. Why? Because if all the other business owners are pulling ads, you will be the last one standing. If a prospect is looking for what you have to offer, they will find you. There will be less competition and clutter for a prospect to sift through. If you have refrained from advertising in the past due to the expense, check again. You may very well be able to afford it now.  

So many people share that their biggest organizing challenge is paper.  Earlier this year, I gave a teleclass called Record Retention 101: Organize Your Paperwork.  It was well attended and has been one of the most sought-after recordings.  If you are having problems with paper, read on for the details. 

You are not sure what to keep, so you keep, well . . . everything! This creates piles of paper and shoe boxes full of receipts. Does this sound familiar? There is a better way! 

In this 75 minute teleclass, Certified Professional Organizer Lisa Montanaro reveals the steps involved in setting up a Record Retention Policy for your home or home-based business. Discover what to keep and for how long, and learn paper management systems to store and retrieve documents for future use.  Get tips on what papers are needed to support tax deductions.  Whether you use an accountant, do your taxes yourself from scratch, or use tax preparation software, this teleclass will help you slay the paper beast for tax season and the whole year through.

Investment: $25 – Bonus! Includes a comprehensive handout and a free subscription to the DECIDE to be Organized monthly ezine.

Click here to go to the order page!

The Clothes Closet Overhaul

  • Remove everything from your closet.
  • Create four piles: Keep, Donate, Toss, Tailor/Clean.  If you haven’t worn it in a few seasons, get rid of it!
  • Try on everything in your keep pile and decide item by item if it is really a keeper.  If you are unsure, try it on and look in a mirror.  Or better yet, ask a kind but honest friend to come over and give you his/her opinion as you conduct a mini fashion show.  The ultimate – get a pro and hire an image or wardrobe consultant to help you.
  • If you have a few sentimental favorites you can’t part with but won’t wear, store them in your Memory Box or out of season storage area.
  • Once you’ve pared down, give your closet an orderly flow.  Organize by garment type (shirts, pants, dresses, suits), season (current in most accessible location), color (only if that appeals to you), use (work versus casual), size (good for babies and little kids who grow out of sizes easily) — whatever makes the most sense for your lifestyle.
  • Consider storing your off-season clothing in separate location if it takes up too much room.  Dress clothes/evening wear used occasionally can also go elsewhere.
  • Use wooden hangers for suits and slacks, clear plastic swivel hangers for shirts, and padded hangers for lingerie and delicate items.
  • Be ruthless about weeding out your clothes on a regular basis, at least whenever there is a change of seasons.  Place a donate bin, box, or bag at the bottom of your closet as a constant reminder! Donate any items not used in the last few seasons, that don’t fit (yes, even your “fat” or “skinny” clothes — it is bad energy to have clothes that don’t fit you hanging around!), or that are out of style.  Remember to keep track of what you donate and get a receipt for a tax deduction if you donate to a tax-exempt charity!

The entryway. Depending on your home, it can be an entire mud room with lots of space, a formal foyer at the front of your house, a breezeway from the garage, or a portion of a hall in a small apartment.  Regardless of where it is, or its size, if it is organized, your homecoming will always be less stressful, not to mention that you may actually want to have visitors over!

The following are some tips to help make your entryway more organized:

  • If you have a front or back hall closet, use it for everyday outer wear for the current season only.  Add a shelf, a shoe rack and any other organizing products that help contain clutter.  If there is room, you can even add a hanging shelf system (a canvas one will work fine) for accessories to be handy, such as hats, umbrellas, scarves, and the like.
  • If you are not lucky enough to have a closet in your entryway, then you need to create the storage system by using cubbies, pegs, a bench, a shoe drying mat, umbrella stand, hanging mail and key slot, etc.  Make this your launching and landing pad for outerwear, knapsacks, briefcases, keys, etc.
  • Accessories go in containers (baskets, bins, or any other type of container): gloves, hats, scarves.  Organize by family member or by accessory category, whichever makes the most sense for your home and family.
  • This may be a good place for a “return and repair center” if you have space.  It is where you keep items that need to be returned to the store, the library, or to rightful owners that you borrowed them from.  Likewise, you can store items to be repaired here so that you are reminded to grab them as you head out the door.
  • You may opt for a hall table if you have room for a mail, key, wallet, and cell phone area.
  • Put all keys in a small container and label the keys, either with a permanent marker or key tabs, so that you know what each key corresponds to.  As a security measure, you may want to use a code instead of labeling the keys “back door,” garage,” etc.

Try to implement some of these tips so that the entryway is less cluttered and says, “Welcome” when you come home!

I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.” ~ Maya Angelou

This time of year, many people are switching their clothes to prepare for the new season.  Most people do not have enough room in their everyday closet for two seasons’ worth of clothes.  So the big switch begins!  Out with the summer clothes here in the Northeast and in with the fall/winter ones.

Transition times are perfect for donating.  As you put away and take out each article of clothing, think about whether it fits, is a great style for you, needs tailoring, etc.  If you decide to donate, there are many worthy charities and organizations ready and able to take those clothes off of your hands and get them into the hands of those who need them.  Here are some choices:

The Help Kenya Project Help_Kenya_Project

This is a Westchester County, NY based charity that focuses on helping the children of Kenya. They collect donations of used computers, books, clothing, sports equipment, and other supplies and ship them to Kenyan schools and libraries. In return, they ask that the recipients plant trees to combat deforestation and provide children with a place to rest and play out of the sun.

It’s incredible how valuable these donations are to a Kenyan child.  This is a charity that truly leaves a lasting impact.


Vietnam Veterans of America Vietnam_Veterans
VVA accepts donations of household goods and clothing in 30 states in the continental United States. To make a donation, please refer to the state map. Identify your area and call the phone number referenced.


Tangible_KarmaTangible Karma is a donation tracking service that gives you a chance to see the difference your donated goods can make in the world.  At Tangible Karma, their mission is to inspire and motivate you, to transform items that are hindering your life into valuable gifts that could make a meaningful difference in the life of another.

In addition to the above organizations, don’t forget Dress for Success, Goodwill Industries, Salvation Army, American Red Cross, St. Vincent DePaul Society, Big Brothers-Big Sisters, domestic violence and homeless shelters, places of worship, educational institutions, animal shelters, hospitals, nursing homes, and libraries.  I am sure you can think of even more in your area!

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Adopt an organization and make it a point to get a wish list from them so that you can fill it with the items you no longer love, use often, or need.  Then sit back and experience the satisfaction of knowing that your cast-offs are becoming someone else’s needed treasures.