Q: I am having a hard time cleaning out my home and I have so much stuff I don’t know where to start. Where can I donate everything including medical supplies, clothing, and furniture?

A: Cleaning out can be a liberating process because it allows you to free up space and get organized. Sometimes we get so full of holding on to items for a long time that it makes us feel weighed down both physically and emotionally. The process of cleaning out provides a time for reflection and reminiscence.

Deciding what to get rid of, however, is not always an easy process. You may feel attached emotionally to things that remind you of the past. Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” become very popular for a method of organizing where you examine each item and determine if it sparks joy in your life. The method explains that if something does not spark joy, you thank the item for serving its purpose and let it go. This method can be very helpful when feeling emotionally attached to things you have acquired over the years.

Approach cleaning out thoughtfully and take it small sections at a time, so you do not get overwhelmed. Start with either one location in your home or with one type of item at a time, like clothing or books.

Label different boxes to sort your items into keep, donate, or throw away. You may also want a “sell” box if you have a neighborhood yard sale to participate in or are comfortable using online selling groups.

There are some wonderful non-profit organizations that also accept donations. For medical supplies, The Camarillo Medical Supply Project accepts durable medical equipment including wheelchairs, adult briefs, and more. You can reach them at 805-491-1028. In Thousand Oaks, Hospice of the Conejo offers a free lending program for durable medical equipment. You can reach them at 805-495-2145.

Consider donating used books to your local public library. Most of them host a used bookstore where the sales go to support the library programs.

To donate clothing and household items consider a non-profit that benefits the community. Senior Concerns operates the Bargain Boutique and Thrift Store in Thousand Oaks. You can reach them 805-373-0504. They give vouchers to Lutheran Social Services to provide to people who are currently homeless. The Coalition for Family Harmony accepts donations for their thrift shop in Ventura, as well. They provide vouchers that allow survivors affected by domestic violence to shop at the thrift store for their needs. You can reach them at 805-643-4411. Always call first and make sure to ask when you can drop off donations, if they offer a pickup service, and what they are able to accept.

The Thousand Oaks City website offers a wonderful list of where to donate or recycle items https://www.toaks.org/departments/public-works/sustainability/trash-recycling/trash-recycling-residential-services/reuse

Use this as an opportunity to make sure your home is free from clutter and any trip hazards. The process of cleaning out can be quite messy, so make sure in the process you are still maintaining a clear walking path with no fall risks.

Recycling your items so that they can be reused by someone in need is a wonderful way to support the community in an environmentally friendly way. It can also provide you a feeling of usefulness while trying to reconcile cleaning out.

Martha Shapiro can be reached at Senior Concerns at 805-497-0189 or by email at mshapiro@seniorconcerns.org.

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