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Week 54: Donate

Traditionally I've been a hoarder, not crazy or anything, but I do have a tendency to hold on to things for longer than I should. A few examples of things I've stockpiled over the years include baby clothes, toys, books and educational materials. Occasionally my hoarding works out in our favor because we get to reuse things; presently my younger son is sleeping in the same bedroom set we bought for my elder son over 12 years ago.

I said I was "traditionally" a hoarder because one day during my last maternity leave something changed and I suddenly started selling old clothes on multiple online marketplaces. I became really proactive in that instead of waiting until the last minute to clean out the boys clothes, I found myself rummaging through their closets to sell things on before they'd even fully outgrown them. At first I thought it was the money and the ability to use the funds to buy new clothes, but this week I realized it wasn’t about the money at all; besides giving me something to do, I genuinely enjoyed taking things that we no longer needed and passing them on to someone who does.

This week we moved back into our house after the completion of our renovation, which made it the perfect opportunity to not only take stock of everything that had been sitting and collecting dust, but also to find a new home for it. This time, rather than looking to “sell” everything, I decided it would be a great opportunity to help others in need and simple donate the things we were no longer using.

I went through the clothes and toys organizing them by age and found three local families who'd been impacted by COVID-19. We made arrangements for contactless delivery and with each delivery the excitement and gratitude was overwhelming. I obviously could've sold the items online, but there was no amount of money that could've replaced the feeling of helping others in a time of need, especially during the holiday period.

Studies have shown that giving to others can actually boost your physical and mental wellbeing; from volunteering at a soup kitchen, to donating to charities and families in need, the health benefits can include lower blood pressure, increased self-esteem, and increased life expectancy. I was amazed to discover that there's even evidence to suggest that during gift-giving behaviors, humans actually secrete “feel good” chemicals in their brains.

As the holiday season starts to wind down, it's the perfect opportunity to give back in a socially distanced manner; whether you want to buy a few extra toys for a toy drive, help stock a local pantry, or like me, donate some items that aren’t getting used around your own house, I'm quite confident you'll be very glad you did.

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