A boost in thrift store donations across the country is being attributed to a popular Netflix show about tidying up.
Here in the Treasure Valley, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is seeing that wave, saying the movement to declutter lives is helping destress many who are financially strapped.
Not only can people that are strapped for cash buy stuff at their thrift stores, but through the stores' profits, people can also get help with living expenses. This surge of donations is coming at a time when federal workers without paychecks are turning to places like St. Vincent de Paul for help.
Old sweaters, plates, books or furniture may mean another month of rent, utilities, transportation, or prescriptions for someone in need in the community.
At St. Vincent de Paul, thrift store profits go directly into funding their helpline, assistance programs, and food pantries.
“Something donated here is going to be translated into direct help for neighbors in need,” Ralph May, the executive director of St. Vincent de Paul said. "Everything it takes to be able to reach out and operate like we do and help as many people as we do."
Typically, May says donations drop off this time of year.
“In the meantime, a lot of the needs increase; people are struggling to pay utility bills, struggling to pay their rent," May said. "It's cold, costs are up and so a lot of times after holidays is when it’s most critical to be able to assist people in need.”
But this year, that decline isn’t the trend.
“We have seen a surge in donations. Our thrift store donations across the board in all of our stores are up compared to what it normally would be this time of year,” May added. “people are bringing a lot of stuff - carloads of stuff. They've cleared out entire rooms and are bringing the balance to us.”
St. Vincent de Paul says part of the drive behind it is the phenomenon surrounding a Japanese consultant.
Marie Kondo's 'Tidying Up' Netflix series teaches how to declutter people's space and lives, only hanging on to things that “spark joy”.
“I think we can attribute at least a good portion of increase in donations we see from this phenomenon,” May added.
“I think it’s a great idea. I’m anxious to watch it,” Cindy Tilton, one woman who consistently donates to St. Vincent de Paul, said. “It might inspire me more to dig through more closets.”
The uptick in donations is coming at an opportune time for federal workers without paychecks as the government shutdown stretches into its fourth week, May says.
“We have seen some and we are anticipating even greater needs and greater response coming through our helpline and food pantries,” he said.
Kondo's declutter teachings are helping the organization destress those dealing with financial stress, turning profits into hope for our neighbors in need.
"It is literally a circle; a neighbor helping a neighbor through decluttering their life, perhaps donating extra things they have in their home to be able to allow us to sell them and translate that into real monetary and tangible help for people that need it,” May added.
"You just can't throw things away you have to give those things to help somebody else,” Tilton added. “We should kind of look around at our lives and share things that we have if we don't need it all.”
People can bring your giveaways to any of the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store locations across the Treasure Valley. If something is too big to be carried there, you can call them or visit their website for pick-up service.
We are doing something pretty cool on Today's Morning News! We're looking for families who want to get their homes organized in 2019. Have you heard of Marie Kondo? She helps people get rid of the clutter and simplify their living spaces. We'll be doing that with local organizers. Do you need to get your house in order and start fresh in the new year? Comment here, and tell us why. We may just pick you!