Mary Hunt

Have you ever wondered if the stuff in your house secretly reproduces itself in the dark of night? I’m nearly convinced that’s the case in my home. I do know the problem.

We get new stuff but don’t remove an equal amount of old stuff to make room for it. And I’m not talking about useless trash.

I’m the first to admit it’s not easy to throw away a perfectly good pair of eyeglasses — even if they are the wrong prescription. Or a cellphone or computer that still works but is now obsolete. And we shouldn’t. But filling our lives and spaces with all kinds of stuff we don’t need or use is not the answer either.

My quest to find a charitable place to which I could donate usable eyeglasses turned up other ways we can do good, and perhaps get money-saving tax breaks, too.

Donate to do good, and in the process, declutter, too.

Prescription eyeglasses. For more than 80 years, Lions Clubs International has collected and distributed prescription eyeglasses to the needy around the world. Got a few pairs around your house you wouldn’t mind donating to this excellent cause?

You will find Lions Eyeglasses collection centers at all LensCrafters, local Lions Clubs and Goodwill Industries Stores. You can also go to to find a drop-off location.

Bicycles and sewing machines. Many communities have bicycle recycle programs that help underprivileged kids through incentive programs. The International Bicycle Fund is one such organization that also distributes bikes around the world.

According to the Pedals for Progress website, the organization “has received, processed and donated over 155,000 bicycles, 4,000 used sewing machines and $10.8 million in new spare parts to partner charities in developing countries” where poor people need cheap, nonpolluting transportation and a way to use their skills to become more self-sufficient or start a small business.

Fabric and yarn. Project Linus volunteers make quilts and knit items for critically ill children. There are chapters around the country, many of which would gladly accept supplies they need to sew and knit. Contact a local chapter directly to discover what it needs and is accepting.

The Quilts of Valor Foundation gives quilts to service members touched by war. Contact the organization to connect with volunteer quilters who are ready, willing and able to take all that beautiful fabric and yarn off your hands!

Donating fabric and yarn to these kinds of charities will really help these organizations fulfill their missions and make you feel great.

Wedding and prom dresses. The gift of your wedding gown helps Making Memories Foundation fulfill wishes for terminal breast cancer patients and makes brides’ special day even more meaningful. Donations may be made during any Brides Against Breast Cancer event or sent directly to the foundation.

Got one prom dress too many? Donate it to someone less fortunate. That’s what Becca’s Closet does on a big and still-growing scale! Go to

Computers, printers and office equipment. The National Cristina Foundation will put you together with a charity in your area that needs your old computers, printers and other equipment to help people with disabilities, students at risk and the economically disadvantaged. Computers and printers are the most needed. Go to and input your ZIP code.

Mary Hunt, founder of, writes this column for Creators Syndicate. Send tips or address questions to: Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740, or email her at

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