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Spring cleaning a good time to donate to local charities

When spring cleaning is finished, it’s possible you’ll be donating items that someone else could use. Your two or three bags may seem inconsequential, but you’re helping fuel group efforts that make a difference in others’ lives while you get a tax write-off.

GOODWILL OF SOUTHERN NEVADA

Goodwill of Southern Nevada makes it easy to donate. Its trucks are parked at areas with helpers available to help unload. It accepts all types of household items and clothing.

Donations seem to bump up come springtime, according to Kathy Topp, Goodwill spokeswoman.

“Clothes are what we see the most of,” she said. “But we want to remind people that we can use their gently used furniture, their gently used home décor, almost anything, books … even your jewelry.”

She clarified that “gently used” means something one would feel comfortable giving to a friend.

According to its website, sngoodwill.org, Goodwill of Southern Nevada took in 478,000 donations in the Las Vegas Valley in 2011. Donating to Goodwill helps the organization train people in new skills. In 2012, it helped 1,800 individuals find employment, the site said.

After the economy slumped, Goodwill increased the number of its donation sites to ensure that donation numbers stayed up.

“That’s been a huge bonus for us in these hard times,” Topp said of the idea to add locations. “If it’s easy and convenient for more people to donate, they’re more likely to do so.”

CATHOLIC CHARITIES OF SOUTHERN NEVADA

Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada, 1501 Las Vegas Blvd. North, accepts all types of items, from appliances to clothes to large items, such as refrigerators.

“I’m still seeing a real big trend in the moving, of this being a transient city,” said Diane Hutton, retail operations director. “They’ll call and say, ‘Where can I get furniture? I need a dresser. I need a sofa.’ Or they’ll say, ‘I’ve got furniture. Can you come pick it up?’ ”

She said Summerlin was one of the areas where it can count on great donations.

“Just today, a gentleman came in with two bags of clothes to donate and said he was redecorating and getting all new furniture,” Hutton said. “I said, ‘Here’s our flier. Give us a call when you want it picked up.’ ”

THE SALVATION ARMY

The Salvation Army is another heavy hitter with 16 facilities and 20 programs. Donations to it help supply 8,000 food and comfort packages to needy families annually.

Its impact is far-reaching. Not only does it provide shelter and support to the homeless, seniors and struggling families, it assists those who need mental health counseling, rescues victims of human sex trafficking and helps those dealing with alcohol, drug and gambling addictions.

Leslee Rogers, public relations officer, said the economy is still affecting things.

“Money donations are down for certain,” she said. “But this is the time of year when we get in-kind donations –– people doing spring cleaning, calling us and asking us to pick up furniture, housewares, small appliances, all that stuff because they bought a new one, so they give us the old one. And we do pick-ups; not everyone does that.”

She said people should remember that The Salvation Army does more than send out bell ringers at Christmastime.

HABITAT FOR HUMANITY

Habitat for Humanity’s thrift stores are called ReStore. Unlike most thrift stores, they focus on household furnishings and building materials. Much of the stock is still in its original packaging or has been used as demonstration models.

The World Market Center hosts major furniture shows twice a year, and afterward, its vendors don’t want the display items, so “we get a flood of things,” said Tracy Gray, donations relations coordinator for Habitat for Humanity Las Vegas. “We get half and Opportunity Village gets half of whatever’s donated. Last time, I think we got 18 24-foot truckloads.”

There’s so much donated that the organization has to store it and dole it out to its stores over time. All of it is offered for sale at what Gray carefully termed “a steep discount.”

“If it’s donated to us, we’re making money no matter what we charge for it,” she said.

Some of the furniture is bought by the families that received homes from Habitat.

Habitat also receives appliances from model homes or gently used items, such as when homeowners decide to redecorate. Those who frequent Habitat’s ReStore shops are often landlords, remodelers, handymen and do-it-yourselfers.

”Not only are we providing housing with the proceeds of what we sell, we’re providing a great way to recycle,” Gray said.

UNITED WAY OF SOUTHERN NEVADA

The United Way of Southern Nevada, 5830 W. Flamingo Road, has multiple partner agencies to ensure that items go where they are needed most. Its focus is on education, health and financial stability for families.

“What kinds of things do we see donated? We see it all,” said Cass Palmer, president and CEO. “If it’s big items like furniture, we’ll be glad to assist. We’ll have the agencies come out and pick up the furniture from their residence, so no muss, no fuss. We’ll (take it) in a heartbeat. Anything helps.”

S.A.F.E. HOUSE

Large charities have more name recognition, but smaller, more focused organizations need items as well. Just ask Frankie Driskell, transitional advocate with S.A.F.E. House, 921 American Pacific Drive, Suite 300, in Henderson, which assists women from battered homes in getting back on their feet.

“We could use the furniture,” she said. “We have women in our shelter who are starting out again and have chosen not to go back into an a abusive relationship and are starting out with virtually nothing.”

Driskell said the group is able to provide only parts of a home.

“It may be just a table. It may be just sheets or towels,” she said. “Whatever we have, we give to the client. A lot of times, we can put together some plates, some silverware, pots and a pan to cook on, but in terms of beds –– and that’s such a biggie, beds and dressers and living room furniture –– we just don’t have that.”

Driskell said as soon as something comes in, it’s handed out right away.

“I have about 40 clients out there, but the clients are in need,” she said. “I have one who just moved into an apartment with two kids, and they don’t have beds to sleep on. The kids caught colds because they were sleeping on the floor. I went out and bought medication for them because I felt bad. When I go home, I sleep in a bed. It’s really hard to wrap your mind around children sleeping on the floor.”

Driskell said when S.A.F.E. House gets donations, it’s in waves. She attributed it to the economy.

“People are having it really rough, so they’re holding on to their stuff,” she said. “When we see the donations come in, we love it. I have a client where the mom had six kids. Six kids, no beds. Fortunately, I was able to interact with an agency which supplied beds. But (those opportunities are) few and far between; it doesn’t happen as often as the need does. The need is very great.”

SHELTER OF HOPE AT THE LAS VEGAS RESCUE MISSION

Gratchin Johnson, director for Shelter of Hope at the Las Vegas Rescue Mission, 480 W. Bonanza Road, reiterated the “any items are welcomed” viewpoint.

“Everything that’s donated to the thrift store goes right back to the mission,” she said. “So, it’s a big part of our support.”

She said the mission gets donations throughout the year but that the holidays seem to make people more generous. Johnson said the mission gets mostly clothes and furniture, and “everything from couches to chairs to TVs to kitchen tables. All of that, we take in.”

COMMUNITY SERVICES OF NEVADA

Margarita Rebollal, executive director of housing for Community Services of Nevada, 730 W. Cheyenne Ave., Suite 10, in North Las Vegas, said it had not taken in a lot of things previously because it was in a smaller space. It got the larger space just before Christmas, going from 1,700 to 4,000 square feet.

“We couldn’t do it before because we couldn’t afford the rent,” she said. “But things are getting a little better, and we have a larger staff now also.”

Clothing and shoes are donated mostly. Rebollal told of one mother with daughters, ages 10 and 13, contacting her to say they needed coats and blankets before winter arrived.

“She had nothing … she’d never be able to buy those things,” she said.

Rebollal said gently used clothing was always needed, especially since Community Services of Nevada was looking to open a career program to help women get jobs, and that included looking presentable at interviews.

“We have a lot of people here (in Las Vegas) who don’t have a high school diploma or a GED,” Rebollal said. “Their writing skills are not so great, and that holds them back. Construction used to be … where people would get the jobs because they didn’t need the skills, the math and science, but now, they find themselves unable to get jobs because they lack (an education).”

Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at jhogan@viewnews.com or 702-387-2949.

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