“If you don’t love it, you won’t wear it,” my mother always advises in fitting rooms.
She doesn’t mean that I have to “love” clothes the same way that I love people. I wouldn’t sacrifice myself for a pair of jeans as I would for my family. She means that if I don’t feel wonderful wearing a piece of clothing, then it will just sit in my dresser or closet taking up space. Frequently, my family donates clothes we no longer wear because we have enough where others do not.
Donating clothes is one way you can have mercy on others, whether it’s a sports t-shirt or a suit or an interview. Emphasizing this Christian call, Jesus said, “I was naked, and you clothed me,” meaning when you clothe others you are clothing Jesus (see Matt. 25:35-36). He wants us to show others mercy in this actions.
In almost any era, stripping someone naked was a way to mock or shame a person in front of communities who were otherwise clothed. Even now, high schoolers and middle schoolers consider it a prank to “de-pants” someone; the sole point being to embarrass them. These actions aren’t merciful, but they show why helping someone who goes without proper clothing is merciful.
People aren’t only embarrassed by losing clothing. Wearing and washing the same clothes every day, only owning clothes that are turning into rags, or not having the proper attire for interviews, presentations, or formal occasions (i.e. weddings, funerals, birthday parties) can inhibit the recognition of a person’s human dignity. Providing people with clothes by either donations or personally gifting someone in need of an outfit shows mercy. Similar to when people dress modestly, having good quality and appropriate clothing helps the rest of society respect a person’s dignity. Don’t overlook the importance of helping the less fortunate clothe themselves! As the winter months approach, think about those who don’t have warm clothes; can you help them?
Ask yourself these questions when you go through your closet:
1. Have I worn it in the past year?
If not, chances are you won’t wear it next year either, but another person will appreciate it more. Unless it’s a sentimental piece you will hand down to family or your wedding dress, why are you keeping it?
2. Does it even fit?
If not, another person can appreciate the fit. Especially if the piece of clothing has become immodestly tight or short, it’s better to give it up.
3. Do I already have too many of these?
Sometimes you find yourself with too many tank tops or a million pairs of white socks. Once, I counted that I had seventy-six t-shirts. Why would I ever need all of those? I set some aside for t-shirt quilts and was then able to shut my dresser drawers.
4. Do I “love” it or will I forget about it in a few weeks?
Maybe going through your closet you see an old shirt you forgot about. The question then is if your surprise is worth keeping or just going to collect more dust.
5. Should this be a victim of the “process of elimination”?
If you’re aiming at a cleaner closet, set a goal for yourself of how many pieces of clothing you want to keep or give up. Stick to your goal and know others will appreciate your donation.
6. Am I over the Toy Story complex?
Toy Story is the cinematic tale of animate toys who mourn their loss of status with their child, Andy. Though the toys do receive a happy ending, the storyline almost makes you feel bad to give up your toys. Don’t worry; your clothes, like a child’s toys, won’t emotionally respond to being donated, so there’s no reason to keep holding on. Let go, and let someone else enjoy!
7. If you don’t have clothes to donate, what can you do?
If you have no clothes to donate, you can always contact a local charity or homeless shelter and ask what they need—new socks, basic t-shirts, and so on.
8. Honestly… is it junk?
Because no one deserves junk. It’s difficult for some of us to throw things away, but if clothing is stained, ripped, or damaged in any way, it is better just to pitch it. Giving the poor our garbage is not treating them with dignity. Be sure that what you are donating is actually worth wearing! If not, you are only creating more work for those who give their time at the donation center.
Remember, it is better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Though you could just throw your clothes in a donation bin, there is more mercy to be seen in personally handing another what they need. Donation centers vary – some selling clothes for much lower prices, some giving clothes to those they know need help. What one will you be able to help out? Are you able to donate your clothes or also be the one handing clothes to those who need it?
Most of all, are you aware of a person who needs a winter coat, a hat, or a new dress? Do you know them and can you buy them what they need for their next birthday or perhaps give them one of yours to borrow or to keep? Clothe those you can!
Donation Centers and Charities, including thrift shops and charities that give work clothes and formal attire to those who need them:
- Goodwill, http://www.goodwill.org/
- Salvation Army, https://give.salvationarmyusa.org/
- Clothing Donations, http://www.clothingdonations.org/
- Donate My Dress, http://www.dresspicks.com/Donate-My-Dress/
- Savers, https://www.savers.com/donate
- Big Brother Big Sister Foundation, http://www.bbbsfoundation.org/Home
- Career Gear, https://careergear.org/
- Dress for Sucess, https://www.dressforsuccess.org/
- Pick Up Please, http://pickupplease.org/
- Care Cycle Inc. http://carecyclecares.com/schedule-a-clothing-drive/
- A family member, neighbor, or new friend!