Dump and donate both begin with “D,” but that’s about all they have in common.

This month’s Budget Vogue is your guide to decluttering, downsizing and donating in ways that thrill those thrift shops that we love and will leave you with a clear conscience and a delightfully clean space filled only with those items that, of course, “spark joy.”

Susan Dromey Heeter's Budget Vogue column sig

First things first: Admit it, you’ve thrown things in a garbage bag and tossed it to the nearest thrift shop hoping no one will realize it’s you behind that Hefty bag. You’ve become so overwhelmed with the massive amount of stuff you’ve accumulated that the only way you know to cleanse is to simply toss — everything: good, bad, indifferent, stained, ruined, well past its shelf life. You’ve also been known to throw those old cans of pie filling into a food drive, convincing yourself, “Well, maybe someone will want to make a lemon meringue pie.”

Let’s face it, we’re all guilty. And I am here today to advocate for those people behind the scenes who have to unpack your, um, donations. When I spoke with friends at Salvation Army and told them the theme of this column, they pleaded, “Please don’t make us a dumping ground! Put things where they belong — clothes in the clothing bin, kitchen stuff in the household items box.”

Katie, of Salvation Army in Rochester, sighed, “Just please don’t dump when the store is closed. Our drivers can’t pick it up and so much stuff gets ruined in the rain.”

Admittedly, I am the queen of quick relief and have been known to toss unmatched socks into a bag thinking, “Well, maybe someone will want to make puppets!” Sure, and food pantries are bombarded by people looking for canned pie filling.

Nope. Now I know better. If I’ve got pit stained T-shirts, entirely faded and stretched out bathing suits, towels from 1989, I put them in a bag marked, “Third World” and give them to Wonderland Thrift Shop in Stratham. Or I simply bring them to the dump. And as much as I loathe contributing to a landfill, some things really do need to be thrown away.

But what about the good stuff? The unstained, pristine items that really may bring someone else some joy? I bring those goods to my A List Thrift Shops:

Find it at the First Thrift Shop, Dover

Full Circle Thrift Shop, Eliot, Maine

Wonderland Thrift Shop, Stratham

Second Generation, Greenland

I also only donate when stores are open so I may get my ever wonderful tax deduction form. Why would I dump and run in the rain? There is certainly no tax incentive in that.

So, dear Budget Vogue fashionistas with your plethora of goods to donate rather dump, thank you for creating a world where those who unpack your generosity do not bemoan your thoughtfulness.

And do share your “A List” Thrift Shops with me. Nature abhors a vacuum — I may find some joys in your treasures!


Susan Dromey Heeter lives and teaches on the Seacoast. Contact her at dromeheet@comcast.net

Susan Dromey Heeter lives and teaches on the Seacoast. Contact her at dromeheet@comcast.net.