Give it away, give it away, give it away now.

Garage sale

Three months.  That’s how long I had been parking my truck in the driveway because my half of the garage was full.

Loyal readers might remember that we did some remodeling last fall. During the process we gleaned massive amounts of unneeded stuff from cupboards, drawers and closets. All of it ended up nicely sorted and laid out on folding tables in the garage.

The plan? Have a garage sale. I mean, why not make a few bucks off the stuff?

First attempt: Cancelled due to rain.

Second attempt: Cancelled due to dad’s reluctance to get out of bed.

Third attempt: Cancelled due to rain.

On March 7th I made the following crack on Facebook: “Half our garage is full of stuff for an “eventual” garage sale. Then we get a reminder that there will be a D.I. pod at the Stake Center…”

(For those who aren’t familiar with D.I., it stands for Deseret Industries. It is a charitable company sponsored but he Church, unlike Goodwill.)

…and the response was quick – 72 people chimed in with their opinions, Most were along this line:

  • I’d rather give it to the DI, garage sales are not for me…
  • Quick, load up the car/truck/SUV before you have time to think about it! I HATE garage sales – I would rather give it to D.I. and see it put to good use than haggle with a bunch of people that think that $3 for a child’s Sunday dress (that cost me $50) is too much, and want to pay 50 cents.

Then two friends dropped the guilt hammer (One happens to manage our nearest D.I.)

“The blessings of a storehouse for the bishops. In Mesa we have to import product from Utah to stay full.” (Seriously? How embarrassing for Arizona!)

“More power to those who are into garage sales. Not I! I read an article a while back about how donating stuff to the DI or other consignment stores is a way we live the Law of Consecration. When we have excess of what we need, we share it with others without asking for money in return.”

It caused me to re-evaluate. I knew for sure that I dreaded holding the garage sale, but the idea of recouping a few extra bucks sounded good. Exploring it in the context of the Law of Consecration was enlightening, and brought a change of heart that was followed by a change of mind.

Yet there was a potential problem: My youngest had organized a bunch of stuff, including bikes, furniture and electronics that he owned, and was counting on selling to make some money. He was pumped up for it and was already seeing dollar signs. Since I don’t run a dictatorship, I was going to need to persuade him to give it up.

I thought through the speech I was going to give him. It would go something like this:

“Son, we don’t really take advantage of many of the opportunities we have to care for the poor and needy. We were thinking that maybe, instead of holding a garage sale, we could donate the stuff to Deseret Industries as charity. I know you were counting on making some money from your bikes and stuff – Maybe, instead, I could give you some money to make up for that.  What do you think?”

I decided to drop the bombshell on him when we were driving home from Church. I took a breath and launched:

“Son, we don’t really take advantage of many of the opportunities we have to care for the poor and needy. We were thinking that maybe, instead of holding a garage sale…”

“Okay.” He cut me off.

“Okay what?”

“Sounds good. Should we take it to D.I.”

“Yeah, but what about the money?”

“Oh, it’s okay, this is probably a better thing to do.”

…and the child becomes the teacher.

A few days later I messaged my friend and asked him where the donation pods were that week. He gave me the address and the lock combination. I loaded up my truck – three times – and filled up half that pod. I came home, and pulled into the garage.

That felt good. It felt right.

A thought from President Monson in 1991, well before the current emphasis on serving refugees:

“Generous contributions of wearing apparel to Deseret Industries are being used to clothe men, women, and children around the world. Clothing is sorted, sized, and shipped to locations as far distant as Romania, Peru, Zimbabwe, and Sierra Leone, as well as to cities in North America. This clothing has warmed and comforted those exiled in refugee centers and orphanages. Meaning is given to the words, “I was … naked and ye clothed me.” (Matt. 25:35–36.)

Elder M. Russell Ballard made it much more personal when he said:

“We should never forget the Savior’s teaching: “Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required” (Luke 12:48). He has blessed us abundantly. I think of the teaching words of one of our hymns:

Because I have been given much, I too must give;

Because of thy great bounty, Lord, each day I live

I shall divide my gifts from thee

With ev’ry brother that I see

Who has the need of help from me.” (link)

-I have been given much.


Additional thought:

Being willing to part with stuff that once held value can feel like a sacrifice.  One thing that really helped me was an idea I heard – but I don’t remember where it heard I – that went something like this:

“The value of the item you are struggling to part with is NOT how much you paid for it. It is how much you would pay for it TODAY.”

That perspective helps me to part with that item that cost me $100, which will probably be sold to someone for $5 – but that person might need it desperately.


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  1. I’ve been thinking since Sunday about your last comment: how the value of an item is not what you paid, but what you would be willing to pay right now. That is wise!

  2. I agree 100%! I like the concept that the item I am getting rid of has served its purpose. I didn’t buy it to sell it later, I bought it to use it. And when I am done with it, it’s okay to get rid of it. Not only that, but it feels good to have a house of order (and not clutter). My kids know my DI donation days are my favorite days!

  3. When Ray and I were married 37 years ago, people gave us their “extra” furniture, and we managed to pull the house together with these hand-me-downs. When we sold our first house, we made money enough to furnish the house new, so we gave away the old furniture and enjoyed our own style for about 15 years. Recently my mother became bedridden and needed us to move into her home to care for her. So we had a “Tongan Funeral” and gave everything away. It’s a joy to be the giver of beautiful, sturdy, quality-made furniture. My children claimed some things, but mostly, my dishes are gone to DI, as are extra clothing, craft items, etc. Our personal space is only two bedrooms now. There’s some grief in not having some treasures, but someone else is enjoying them. If I don’t re-acquire them in this life, there’s eternity to set up house again.

  4. I love donating to DI. They take it off my hands immediately and it helps a good cause. I am grateful to be so blessed!

  5. You don’t have to live near a D.I. to donate to a good cause. Here in Iowa we regularly donate to a thrift store that supports work with handicapped adults; and we shop there too. I like the feeling of a weight off my back when I take a big load there. And I’m always so grateful for the others who donate their excess so I can purchase what I need at affordable prices.

  6. Alternative perspective: As one who shops garage sales because DI is so expensive, when you hold a garage sale you are likely making things far more affordable to your community members in need than you are by sending them to DI. Better yet, get on your local FB group and give them directly to someone instead of sending them to DI, where they will be priced far above the usual second-hand market prices for those items.

    If you want to support job programs or foreign aid, DI is a great choice.

    Just depends on who and what you want to help.

    1. Your DI must price items differently than the one in my area. I haven’t been thrift-store shopping in a while, but I used to shop at thrift stores pretty often & items at DI were always around the same price, or even less than similar items at other second-hand stores.

    2. I agree with you that the DI is way more expensive than garage sales. There are a few things I like at the DI — LDS books. However, I love going to garage sales and getting things for about 1/4th of the price of things at the DI.

  7. We’ve enjoyed our “downsizing” over the last six or so months. After 50 years of marriage and not moving in the last 40 years we have accumulated a bunch of stuff. It has been on my mind for so long that more than half of it needs to go but with my lung disease and my husband’s problems with his legs and back we just have about enough energy to live and the whole ordeal of going through boxes and closets, storage unit, garage, basement … was just too much. Thank goodness for our grand daughters. They took us on as a project and for two or three months they were here two or three times a week. They got rid of outdated foods, garbage, and pure junk (like broken things we were always going to fix and then they started carrying boxes of books, clothes, material etc. to me to sort.

    One grand daughter’s husband and my son and a grandson came over one Saturday and speed cleaned the garage. That was hard on Lynn as they were working fast and hauling things to the piles they thought they should go. He was busy re-arranging the piles as to where HE thought they should go. We were exhausted but so happy to have things carted to the DI or the dump or that we could give to our neighbors or someone we knew needed it. A funny thing … when they were cleaning out the garage people stopped by thinking we were having a garage sale. One lady was going through the stuff for the dump so of course we let her have whatever she wanted! We got rid of old computers (my husband is a retired computer guru), and other electronics that had taken up so much space. Some things we advertised to online garage sale and that money is put in a little account to go toward whatever I want for improvements in house or yard. We aren’t done yet. Every week we take one, two, or three trips to the DI with the back half of the Prius loaded up (haha on the size of half of a Prius).

    We still have stuff in storage to take to DI. We need to do that quickly so we don’t have to do it in the summer heat. I think we have maybe one month to get it done. All I can say is it sure feels good to be minimalizing and not having so much clutter. Thank you to my sweet grand daughters and to one who has continued to come at least one day a week. She is the one that holds up two objects and says *which one do you want? One of them has to go. Then a week later the one I kept is in another set of “which one do you want” and she has managed to help us haul out a lot.

    It sounds like we are hoarders. I admit to hoarding material. I can’t help it. I am a material girl. Lynn hoarded electronics. I hoarded boxes of cards from children who knocked on our door selling them for school projects. I have enough cards to supply my entire family with cards (including Christmas) until kingdom come and back. We also hoarded books and manuals. We gave all the books from three large book shelves to the DI. I still have three large shelves of books. (It was like the Prophet Elijah who ate an old woman’s last loaf of bread and after that she never ran out of oil or grain.

    I had boxes of clothing in four different sizes. I got rid of the two ridiculously low sizes and she convinced me if I ever got to that size I would deserve new. I now have only one box of wishful thinking and the size I am in. I still may get rid of the wishful thinking boxes and I just might get rid of those, too. Oh, and Christmas decorations. There are going to be some happy people next year for the holidays I hope.

    So, gee, this is like a whole article … a testimonial … Yes, “get rid of it and get rid of it now” is good. Taking things to the DI blesses those who receive it and we who give it happily.

    I think it is great of your son to so willingly donate the things he was hoping to sell. I might tell you, though, that if there are a few things that you ever do want to sell, just do it through your local Online Yard Sale. It’s easy … and you can put the money aside for home updates or whatever … a trip to Hawaii. It’s okay to sell as well as donate. You are actually selling things that the people would have to pay quite a bit for if new … so it’s still a good deed.

    Then the trick is … don’t bring anything new in that you can’t put in a permanent spot or that you can take something out for. That’s what we are trying to do.

    Thanks for the article. Very timely.

  8. L*O*V*E this! I had never thought of my contributions to DI as living the law of consecration!! THANK YOU!!!!!!!

  9. The last garage sale we participated in was a youth fundraiser for girls’ camp, 20 years ago. I can’t think of anything that is worth selling that I wouldn’t prefer to give to DI and not have to spend my day in the front yard watching people paw through stuff.
    For those worried about the $ from a garage sale, the accountant in me says….DI contributions are tax deductible charity donations (just get a receipt), DI even lets you decide what your stuff is worth.
    We live 3 hours from the closest DI distribution center (I think it is Brad’s) When we remodeled our kitchen last year, we pulled the nearly new appliances from our “new” 70 year old house. For us, I just called the bishop and asked where he wanted them. Somebody in the ward needed them.

Add your 2¢. (Be nice.)

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