Attention Readers: Find Us in Your Mailbox Soon
With the coronavirus stats going in the right direction, all of us at C&G Newspapers look forward to resuming publication of the St. Clair Shores Sentinel and Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle on May 27th. All other C&G newspapers will begin publishing on June 10th (Advertiser-Times on June 24th). In the meantime, continue to find local news on our website and look for us on Facebook and Twitter.

Consider spring cleaning a philanthropic tradition

Donations of used items can benefit animal shelters, thrift stores

By: Tiffany Esshaki | C&G Newspapers | Published March 21, 2018

 Housewares make up a quarter of the sales at Salvation Army thrift stores around southeast Michigan.

Housewares make up a quarter of the sales at Salvation Army thrift stores around southeast Michigan.

Photo provided by Marie Boyle, of Franco Public Relations

 Harold Stone, an attendant at the Royal Oak Animal Shelter, plays with Valentino, a hardship foster case residing at the shelter in need of temporary placement and care.

Harold Stone, an attendant at the Royal Oak Animal Shelter, plays with Valentino, a hardship foster case residing at the shelter in need of temporary placement and care.

Photo by Tiffany Esshaki

METRO DETROIT — Think back and try to picture the inside of your first apartment.

Besides the Pink Floyd poster and patched-up beanbag chair, the furniture that adorned your young space was probably handed down from generous family — or maybe just picked off the curb the night before garbage day.

The point is, while you’re pitching old junk in the coming weeks during your annual spring cleaning purge, remember that there are plenty of neighbors — on two legs and four — who could benefit from your tried-and-true goodies.

Count the Salvation Army in that lot. The nonprofit’s popular chain of 37 thrift stores across metro Detroit sell a variety of donated items, from clothing and used media to furniture and housewares.

In fact, according to Rani Gabbara, director of retail operations for the Salvation Army’s southeast Michigan thrift stores, housewares make up about 25 percent of the store’s sales. 

And right now, they’re low on product.

“Typically, we do go low on donations in the beginning of January, and that lasts through the winter months. Then once it warms up, garage sale season comes and we usually get the leftovers; same with spring cleaning. But right now we’re very low on donations. It’s been a long, rough winter, and we just went through all our product,” Gabbara said.

That’s a big deal, because all of the proceeds from the sales at the stores go to fund the Salvation Army Southeast Michigan Adult Rehabilitation Centers in Romulus and Detroit. There, men and women, respectively, can participate in a six-month, no-cost holistic rehabilitation program to overcome substance abuse. With more than 300 beds at the men’s campus in Detroit and more than 80 for women in Romulus, that’s a lot of people helped annually.

“We need glassware, dishware, any type of Tupperware,” Gabbara explained. “Pots and pans are huge, and all other kitchen appliances we’re always in dire need of. Then, our housewares section also includes things like wicker baskets, vases, knickknacks in general. Little sculpture pieces — the things that make a house a home.”

Each Salvation Army thrift store location has a donation center in the rear of the building for easy drop-offs, and customers can snag a receipt for their donation for a nice tax deduction.

“In our organization, it’s the donor that makes everything possible,” Gabbara said. “The more that’s donated to us, the more good we can do.”

Bedding can also be donated to Salvation Army stores, but if you’ve got some old towels that are past their prime, you might want to consider donating them to someplace like the Royal Oak Animal Shelter. Attendant Harold Stone said the shelter can really make use of them.

“As long as they’re not threadbare, we don’t care if they’re discolored or bleach-stained,” Stone said. “We put three to four towels on each bed in the kennels. They’re easier to maintain than bedding, so we really don’t use old blankets or pillows or anything.”

Old used leashes, collars — the kind that snap into place like a seat belt, as opposed to a belt buckle — and dog and cat toys are great things to donate too, according to Stone. Spare laundry detergent, garbage bags and cleaning supplies are a must too. But if you have a cat and some spare supplies to keep them comfortable, you might want to donate a few to your local animal shelter.

“We’re going into kitten season now, which lasts from about April to August. And we get groups of kittens in here whose mothers were either killed or abandoned, or the family was disrupted by urban growth or wildlife,” Stone said. “So we really need to prepare for all the kittens we’ll be getting in.”

That means KMR-brand kitten milk is a must for the shelter. The ROAS could also use lots of clay — not clumping — kitty litter. The shelter goes through about 250 pounds of kitty litter per week, so extra is always welcome.

“You don’t even have to bring it here. If you’d like to donate that, pay for it at the Pet Supplies Plus location on Woodward (Avenue in Royal Oak), and I’ll go pick it up from them,” Stone said.