Movement to “tidy up” could be bringing in increased donations to area thrift stores

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Area thrift stores are seeing a spike in donations that wouldn't typically happen at this time of year. Could a hit show be the reason?

Marie Kondo, a home organizer who has written books and recently launched a TV series, encourages people to "tidy up" their homes and get rid of anything that doesn't "spark joy."

"If it doesn't bring you joy, it can bring other people joy through the Downtown Rescue Mission!" said Joanna Thompson, Director of Retail Marketing a the Downtown Rescue Mission. The mission has multiple thrift store locations throughout North Alabama, and she said each of them has seen increased donations this month.

At the Huntsville store where we met her for our interview, she said they've seen a 180% increase in donations from last January and a 220% increase in donations from 2 years ago.

"We've seen that growth here, as well as throughout all of our stores across the Tennessee Valley," Thompson said.

That only means good things for the people the mission serves, she said, thanks to your help. January is their busiest time for the emergency shelter.

"In January, we usually see a lull in donations, but we see an increase in people coming to our emergency shelter due to the cold," Thompson said. "Instead of having to scrounge around to find donations, we have an abundance of blessings and we are able to support the mission better."

Every dollar spent in the Downtown Rescue Mission thrift stores goes back to supporting the mission.

The mission provides emergency shelter, faith-based recovery programs, and transitional assistance for people in the local community. You can find out more about what they do by clicking this link, or watching WHNT News 19's award-winning special report on the mission and how it saves lives.

Mission staff said donating can even be as easy as going to this website and scheduling a donation pickup.

If you are looking to find a place to donate your gently-used items, the Better Business Bureau of North Alabama can help.

Head to their website to search for organizations accredited by the BBB. You can also look on their Wise Giving Guide with the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, to learn how charities stack up against 20 different standards.

"There are 20 standards they have to abide by. We check those closely to make sure they are running their charity in a way that consumers are giving to an organization that is using the funding they are perceived to be," said Julia Cherry, BBB of North Alabama Director of Communications, Marketing and Events. "It's very important to make sure you do your research before giving."

She also recommends looking at what you want to donate, and making sure it's in good shape.

"You need to sit down and think about what needs to go in the trash and what's worth someone else getting or paying for," she said.

Cherry warned that drop-boxes might be deceiving. She said you should check to make sure the drop boxes you may see on the side of the road are actually going to charities or people in need.

"Some people think giving is easy. And it should be. But you want to make sure the items you are getting rid of actually go to a place where they are going to help others," she said.

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