It must be Tuesday! I can always tell. On Tuesdays, Carlita attacks the pile of donated items that were brought to N Street Village over the past week. One of hundreds of not-for-profit organizations in the District of Columbia, N Street Village receives donations of clothing, toiletries, bedding, and food for the hundreds of women it serves each year. And, the task of sorting through all this largess is monumental. Thank heavens for Carlita.
Carlita began using services at N Street Village five years ago when her husband passed away and she needed some extra help. The staff immediately made her feel at home with good meals, warm clothing, companionship, and a bed in its night shelter. N Street Village gave Carlita a lot, and in return, she gives her time volunteering. Now living in her own place, Carlita has returned to N Street Village twice a week for the last three years to sort and organize all of the in-kind gifts donated to N Street Village.
With an extraordinary spirit of generosity, local residents rally in-kind donations all year long. As spring cleaning commences, arms full of clothing, boxes brimming with non-perishables, and trunk loads of household necessities begin arriving at the doorsteps of shelters, schools, and soup kitchens. From this cornucopia, service organizations feed, clothe and outfit those in need.
Unseen, however, is the army of Carlitas at nonprofits all over the city who unpack, sort, fold, categorize, and distribute this bounty. And unfortunately, what is donated to one organization often needs to be redirected to another that can best use or accommodate the donation. For example, women’s shelters can’t use men’s clothing. Some organizations do not have the space to store furniture, large household items, and off-season clothing. Large donations of produce may exceed an organization’s refrigeration capacity. And computers, printers, and outdated technology often need special handling or to be appropriately recycled.
Donate Smart DC is a coalition of local nonprofit organizations striving to help generous D.C. donors make the biggest impact with their donations. Donate Smart DC enables donors to efficiently donate non-monetary items by providing information about local organizations’ current donation needs and donation policies.
For more information please visit www.donatesmartdc.wordpress.com
By Anne Steeves – Anne is a second year member of Lutheran Volunteer Corps (2010-2012) and is N Street Village’s Volunteer and In-Kind Coordinator. Anne hails from Minnesota – land of 10,000 lakes – and earned her BA from St. Olaf College where she studied Sociology, Anthropology and Middle Eastern Studies.