Monday, October 04, 2010


Recently I found a nice stainless steel grape juice steamer at Goodwill. I decided to buy it and pass my old aluminum one on to someone else.

And Jenny outgrew her rollerblades, which are still in really nice shape.

I believe in passing things like this along to someone who can use them. I often donate to thrift stores, especially if I like their purpose, like Sharing Hands or St. Vinnie's. I have a few issues with Goodwill and their 6-figure-salary CEO.

But stuff like a grape juice steamer I like to pass on to friends and neighbors, particularly church people. So I called Regina from down the road and talked to Verna from up the road. Neither needed a steamer, but they'll let me know if they know of someone who does. I also talked to Debbie about the rollerblades for her daughter, but she declined them, and then at the Gospel Echoes banquet I talked to Ruth, and she said she'd see if Mackenzie can wear them.

There has to be a more efficient way to do this.

I know some churches have a "Free Table" in some corner where anyone can freely donate or receive. However, we're a bit pressed for space and I'm afraid with all the young kids buzzing all over after church any Free Table stuff would be scattered from Dan to Beersheba.

Something online seems like a logical way to go, since all the younger people are computer literate. Something where you would post stuff you have to give away, and someone could contact you if they need it.

Just wondering--have any other churches tried anything like this? How did you set it up? What worked? What didn't? How did you publicize it? How did you get people to participate? Is there an efficient way to do it on Facebook?

I'm almost sure there's a young mom in church that could use my offerings, but I don't have time to make 25 phone calls to find out.

So I welcome your suggestions.

Quote of the Day:
"What's this unearthly sound?"
--Steven, who does not appreciate culture or classical music by Rossini


  1. My computer programmer son and his co-worker have been working on a computerized book lending list to be shared among church friends--with book owners listing books they are willing to loan out. They're writing software to facilitate it, as I understand it. Maybe they could suggest an application that would work for your purposes. I emailed Joel your post.

    Miriam Iwashige

  2. I started an email group called Extra Blessings at our church for this purpose. I maintain the list of addresses and do all the email sending. Those interested in sharing their "extra blessings" send me the info and I send it to the group. We also share tips, recipes, local store sales, etc.

  3. Mrs. I's son10/04/2010 4:43 PM

    Our vision of potential futures for our project does include stuff other than books or media, but at the moment even the books part is still in beta. Given the time-poor state of both its developers, it will probably be a while before it's fully functional. :-( It was inspired by my brother's experience in a community consisting mostly of people engaged in some sort of VS, in which the ethic of pooling the community's resources meant that a lot of borrowing (and lending) went on.

    In the meantime, you might check out a few other sites. I like a lot about Neighborgoods ("group" options and ability to list stuff to lend, rent out, give away, or sell), but wish it would let you better manage who your "neighbors" are--I'd like to make stuff freely available to my immediate neighbors and more-distant people w/ whom I have other social or non-geographical community connections, but don't see listing stuff for everyone in a 50-mile radius to see as optimal.

    Anyway, see what you think.
    Share Some Sugar

  4. You're probably not the only one with stuff to 'share'. Why not organize a day where everyone in your area brings their extra stuff and you set up a free day? (can't call it a garage sale cause everything would be free.) Spread the word and let others take home what they can use and then share the leftovers with the thrift store. That way the neighbor down the raod that could really use another spoon or blanket has a chance at it before you have ot haul it off.

  5. My wife pointed me to this post; I'm the one working with Joel on a lending website - its current beta form can be found at

    I'm excited that you've thought of this, as it's very much one of my visions - it just seems like something that conservative Anabaptists should be doing.

    I'd be delighted to keep you updated on the progress of the website if you'd like.

  6. Our church put up a small bulletin board with a pen on a string, tacks, and two stacks of little square colored papers. The pink papers were titled "I'm Looking For" and had spaces for Item, name of person and contact info; the yellow papers said "I Have" with space for your item, info and if selling, price. I has become fairly popular. Even kids are posting notes with books and odds and ends they're parting with or looking for.

  7. @ Miriam Iwashige

    Feel free to pass my email along as a potential software purchaser for that book lending list. I've wanted to create something of that nature for a long time.

    @ Dorcas:
    The church I attend has a "bargain hotline" email list that anyone attending the 5 local "fellowship churches" can subscribe to. Everything from garage sales to carpooling to overnight stay requests to car sales to job listings happens on that list. It works great! Kind of like a mini version of Craigslist for a select audience.

  8. Dorcas, you need freecycle! We've discovered it since moving to Ireland, and it's great. I think it depends on the area, though, as to how productive it is. We've scored a free desk, chest of drawers, and microwave so far, and have managed to give away household items that we're not using and dont have room to store. Love it.

  9. We have Freecycle here in my hometown, and it's great; except there are so many people always "asking for/needing" things. I'll admit that turns me off, since it's so often the same people asking. That would be a reason to have something set up for a more selective audience. I like the bulletin board w/ little notes idea. :)

  10. Why not just set it up as a google group? That way everyone in the group would get the emails when you need/have something.

  11. I recently did a clothing giveaway for my homeschooling group. I have been blessed by family members donating clothes to me and want to help others who are striving to make it in a one-income family. It was a dual blessing, for me, and for them! I know they're going to good homes where they will be appreciated! I highly recommend it!

  12. Dorcas, do you have in mind a simple private email list via which only/all members receive posts with freebie offers?

    Or do you have in mind something more public such as a blog or forum?

    PS: Ruby might be interested in the steamer. :)

  13. Thanks for all your ideas. After discussing this at our sewing circle, we decided to use the bulletin board idea. In the long term, I'd love to do this by email. I'd like to keep it "tight," i.e. just our congregation or the local Mennonites (about 5 churches). Maybe when someone besides me has the vision and time to organize it...
    And Mark, I still have the steamer, so if Ruby wants it, I'd be happy to send it up the road with Orpha. Let me know.