Spring cleaning...

Volunteers sort through donations at the Bluefield Union Mission.

BLUEFIELD — Closets need spring cleaned too. The trouble is what to do with the items that are pulled from the rubble of old, unwanted “junk,” but local nonprofits may have the answer.

Historical origins share different stories about spring cleaning. For some, it may have started because of the way homes stayed closed up throughout the winter with poor ventilation, soot and ash increasingly growing as residents made efforts to heat their homes by means of coal, wood and oil. For others, it may have been for religious or traditional reasons such as for the Jewish culture cleaning out all leavened products from the home before Passover, or the Chinese culture literally sweeping out bad luck before Chinese New Year.

For many now, spring cleaning is a little different. People decide it’s time to clean out every nook and cranny of their homes, leaving nothing behind as they wipe down walls and sweep ceilings. It may be that it makes people feel better to be able to open up the house as warm sunlight begins to shine through the windows. Fresh air blows through the house to let out some of the chemical smell from the cleaners used during the winter months. And perhaps most appealing, is the decluttering of the house as families work to gather items by asking the question, “have I used or worn this in the past year?”

Often what comes next is the bagging of different possessions, including clothing (both lightly used and ripped and stained), household items and much more that is often thrown out. Nonprofits make a new suggestion - donate.

One among many places to drop off your bagged items is the Bluefield Union Mission.

“We do encourage everyone as they are spring cleaning to keep us in mind,” Director Craig Hammond said.

The Union Mission, like other nonprofits in the area, accepts about anything you don’t want from household to hygiene items. And for the items you may deem as unusable, go ahead and take them as well.

For that shirt you may think is too tattered and stained, or the intimates you aren’t sure they’ll accept, “it will go to another location where it will be recycled,” Hammond said. “We try to come as close as possible to zero waste. If we can’t use it and our clients can’t use it, then we look for re-use.”

Dianna Orea of Kingdom First Missions, a team that works to serve not only their local community but communities abroad, has a similar idea as far as zero waste goes.

“Most things are recyclable,” Orea said. “Even if not in their current state. All the unusable clothes and shoes get sold as rags to people who use the materials to make new things. And the money we make selling those things funds our food giveaways, missions work, when we furnish people with heat in the winter or to help us support those children in El Salvador who lose their sponsors.”

Kingdom First Missions has bins placed around the community for everything from socks and shoes to sheets and household items, as long as they will fit in the mouth of the bin. Two things they ask is that wet items are not placed in the bins as it causes mold and destroys everything in the bin, and that breakable items are not placed in the bin.

The Bluefield Salvation Army is also a local place to drop off your spring cleaned closet items, even accepting household items and furniture if it’s not too tattered. The Salvation Army has a similar process as the Union Mission and Kingdom First Missions for recycle. They have a trailer at the back of their building that once filled with unusable items, a company comes to get the items to make rags out of.

For women’s lightly used professional clothing, drop it by WISE Women on Commerce Street in Bluefield, W.Va. They will accept business wear, casual wear and scrubs of all sizes as they are particularly in need of larger sizes. They also accept purses, gloves, hats and various hygiene items; anything that would uplift a lady. This particular organization requests that any intimate items (underwear, bras, panty hose) be new or never used. Items that cannot be used at WISE Women are often taken to another nonprofit such as the Union Mission or Open Heart Ministries, or if it is something they think would be of use for working males, they send it to Mercer County Fellowship Home located on Scott Street in Bluefield W.Va.

Director of the Mercer County Fellowship Home, Jim McClanahan, encourages the donation of articles particularly useful to males. He also suggests not throwing away tattered men’s shirts.

“A lot of guys do construction work and use those clothes to work in,” he said. “Even if they have holes and stains.”

While not a complete list of local nonprofits, these are all willing and capable of turning unwanted clothes into something of use whether by redistribution or recycle, and for the most part, they work together to get people in the area what they need when they need it.

When spring cleaning with the result of finding unwanted items the question is often asked, “what do I do with my clothing (including undergarments), towels, bedding, gloves, hats, old furniture, household items etc.? Go ahead and donate it, even if unsure.

— Contact Whitney Browning at wbrowning@bdtonline.com

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