Baby… It’s Cold Outside! Part 1 – A Warm Winter Hat DIY

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Bbbbrrrr… Winter is here for sure!

And what better way to keep your hands, your head and your heart warm, than by re-purposing and up-cycling old wool sweaters into new (to you), warm mittens and hats!Abby Freeman models our completed blue felt hat created from a wool sweater

Do you have an old favorite wool sweater that you don’t wear anymore? Perhaps it is too small, has some holes or is just not in style anymore… Perhaps it’s a sweater that your child outgrew that has fond memories.

Turn that sweater to “felt” and with a little hand sewing, that old, beloved garment can become a very useful pair of mittens or a fabulously warm hat!

Hat first…

First, make sure your sweater is 100% wool or a mixture of wool and animal fiber (alpaca, cashmere, or angora). Acrylic or cotton blended with the wool will not work for this project. You can usually double check by the laundry instructions – if the label states “dry clean only” or “hand wash only”, you’re good to go.

Once you have chosen sweaters, place each in a lingerie laundry bag and toss them in your washing machine. Set your machine to HOT wash and COLD rinse and let it agitate away… exactly the opposite of the garment care directions! How much fun is that! If you are felting a number of sweaters at once, you might separate them to felt dark colors together and light colors together to avoid lint from a dark sweater glomming onto a light color sweater. Add a little detergent and step away to allow your washing machine’s agitation do it’s thing. Once it’s done, remove your sweaters from the washer and take a look. You will find that the fibers have all “felted” together, creating a wonderful, thick fabric.  Now just lay them on a dry towel and allow them to air dry.

Now you’re ready to turn that wonderful treasured sweater into a nice warm hat or mittens.  Let’s start with the hat. It is simpler and will take less time as you only have one head… or at least you should only have one head.

The pattern we have developed is available in two sized for an adult head and two sizes for a child’s head. Click here for printable instructions and the hat patterns (page 2-3 of the instruction pdf).

Step 1: Determine your head size by measuring the circumference of your head around your ears. Compare this number to the measurement of the hat pattern. The pattern should measure 1″ less than half of the measurement of your head.

lay pattern piece on sweaterStep 2: Turn your sweater inside out so that the right sides are facing each other. Lay your sweater on a flat surface and pin your hat pattern to the sweater. Use any ribbed or finished lower edge of your sweater as the lower edge of your hat if you’d like. We used the ribbed edge for our hat edge. Pin the pattern in place through both thicknesses and cut around the outside of the pattern.

sew from a to bStep 3: Hand sew the two pieces together starting at the crown of your head (A) and sewing to the bottom edge (B). Secure your sewing yarn at B and trim.  Repeat on opposite side from C to D. You will now have both sides sewn and you can try on your hat to see if it fits. If you feel it’s too large, now is a good time to sew another seam on each side a little bit inside your first seam…

top seam of hatStep 4: Once both sides are sewn, open up your hat and fold again in the opposite direction, matching up the V shaped opening. Sew across this opening to close the crown of your hat.

Optional Step 5: Add embellishments to your hat such as a pom pom, buttons, patches or anything else you can think of… Make it your own!

Voila! Your hat is complete and ready to wear! Show it off with pride… and warmth!

Click here for Part 2 – Warm Winter Mittens DIY

Thank you to Heather Hamilton for developing the pattern and instructions, and Abby Freeman for modeling our finished hat!

 

Playing Secret Santa

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Three students from North Penn School District If you want to see a room full of well behaved, studious students wildly erupt into a cataclysm of cheers, squeals, and smiles all you have to do is walk through the door with an armful of toys, and a heart filled with Christmas spirit. This is Impact Thrift Store’s version of “playing secret Santa”; spreading Christmas cheer with the intention of showing children how spontaneous acts of kindness can affect lives in a positive way.

a young man from North Penn School District enjoys his new toy from Impact Thrift Store secret SantaPlaying Santa to children at neighboring schools, hospitals and churches is quickly becoming a holiday tradition for Impact Thrift Stores. Each child might receive a new board game…a doll…a stuffed animal, or the hottest new Justin Bieber Diary, donated to them through the generosity of people who drop off donations at the back door of any one of the four stores locations. Impact Thrift pays the donor’s generosity forward by placing the toys in the hands of unsuspecting, yet very deserving children.

“For some of these students, this may be their only Christmas gift,” commented Ms. Brown, a first grade teacher in the North Penn School District. 
a young lady from North Penn School District with her new Justin Bieber note pads from Impact Thrift Stores secret SantaJust as she made her remark, her attention was called away by the joyous scream of a little girl receiving a pretty purple password journal. The child’s excitement could not be contained. “This is exactly what I mean…” stated Ms. Brown, her voice trailed off, as she was emotionally moved by the young girl’s exuberant show of gratitude.

Knowing that a child’s Christmas was made a bit brighter elevates the spirit of Impact Thrift. Creating connections, and showing people that we truly care –especially when they least expect it—gives true meaning to playing Santa. 

~Tamika Miller

Introducing Impact International

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Impact International LogoAt Impact Thrift Stores, we joke about World Domination

But then again… why not!

We ask ourselves… could we find a way to support other organizations outside of our region- worldwide in fact – that actively make a difference in the lives of families and children while still fulfilling our mission of financially supporting  locally-based charities?

Well, we think we’ve found a way… and we call it Impact International!

Impact Thrift is excited to open a new in-store department that we are calling Impact International. This new department, currently only in our Feasterville store, will display and sell products that directly financially support those in need in foreign lands; empowering them to create a sustainable life for themselves and their families. 100% of the net proceeds generated by the sale of these items go directly back to the organizations supporting those in need.  Please join us as we come alongside these organizations in their support of others.

The two organizations represented in this department are:

sustained acts logoSustained Acts is a non-profit organization whose mission is to support sustainable projects for those in need in Kenya. Sustained Acts offers Animal sculptures hand crafted in Kenya“Crafts from Kenya” which are Kenyan designed and produced crafts. Sustained Acts has pledged that 75% of the price will be paid directly to the crafts person and 25% will go towards supporting Kenyan ministries overseeing the local Kenyan orphanage. Sustained Acts Kenya Crafts are in all four Impact Thrift Stores.

 

worthwhile wear logoWorthwhile Wear is a non-profit organization focused on the prevention of, rehabilitation from and raising awareness about human trafficking and sex slave industries in India. One of the many ways that Worthwhile Wear supports their mission is to sell jewelry and purses for

impact international merchandise

Freeset, Nightlight and Rahab’s Rope whose merchandise is produced by girls and women who have been rescued from the brothels and sexual slavery.   Through Freeset, Nightlight and Rahab’s Rope these rescued girls

bracelet - impact internationaland woman are not only taught a trade but are getting much needed education as well as emotional, physical and spiritual support. These women’s lives are being transformed from one of being victims of degrading sexual exploitation to one that is filled with hope, dignity and self-worth and are now economically empowered.

Next time you are in Feasterville, stop in and browse Impact International! Your purchase will make a difference in so many lives!

January: 5 Weeks of Opportunity

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January calendar photo by Jill TarabarThere are 5 weeks in January 2013… 5 weeks of cold, sometimes snowy weather… 5 weeks of being stuck indoors with nothing to do…

We like to think of January as…

5 weeks of Opportunity! 5 weeks to tackle 5 projects! A makeover of mind and matter.

sit down with a cup of hot chocolate and relaxWeek 1… Give yourself a break!

So you didn’t accomplish all that you hoped to in 2012.  So what! Put all of that behind you and keep your thoughts in the present tense. Easier said than done of course but definitely worth a try. Focus on what you do well and enjoy, and practice positive self talk… Replace “I can’t…” with “ I CAN!” and let your positive energy flow! This will take some work, it’s not something that will happen over night – or even in one week. But, seriously, if you start now, you’ll be amazed at how much better you will feel before too long.

Now… Take a deep breath, pour yourself a cup of tea or hot chocolate and set your organizing goals! January is after all, National Get Organized Month.  Begin by making a list on paper.  Be realistic, manageable…  but inclusive. Pick 4 of those goals – or adopt ours – and assign one to each a week.

Week 2… Your Foyer, Vestibule or Point of Entry.

Do you walk into your home to a mess of clutter? Shoes, backpacks, work bags, gym bags? Items piled on the stairs waiting patiently to be carried upstairs? Walking into a disaster area every time you enter your home is not at all relaxing! Think outside the box… or if you have room add boxes, shelving or cubbies so that each family member will have a place to store their belongings. Make your entryway inviting… it sets the tone for your home, and you!

Week 3… Your Bedroom. 

organized closetTake a look in your closet… What fits? What doesn’t? What have you not worn for a year… or more? Is it an item you were talked into buying? An item that reminds you of a different time in your life? An item that you hope will fit after your next effort to lose weight? Are those skinny pants or skirt the source of unnecessary stress? Now’s your chance to break free and purge those items from your closet!  If it doesn’t fit or you haven’t worn it for at least a year, why keep it around? Consider how your closet feels… stuffed to the gills!

Impact Thrift now accepts soft goods in ANY condition! Those donated items such as clothing, bed sheets, towels that are in bad shape are now responsibly recycled… keeping these items out of landfills and funding charities at the same time!

Once you’re happier with your closet, take a look around your bedroom. Do you have books piled up that you’ve already read? Other items that are gathering dust? Hold on to the family heirlooms and box up the rest for donation. Someone will enjoy reading that book or looking at that wonderful treasure… Donate those new, gently-used, un-needed or stress inducing items and clothing to help others who will put them to good use!

so much paperWeek 4… Your Stacks of Paper.

If you’re like me, you print EVERYTHING! Recipes, craft ideas and patterns, e-mails, driving directions, contact info, and more! Go through all of your paper and decide what you absolutely neeeeeeeed to keep, what can be recycled and what should be shredded (be sure to shred anything with personal info especially your Social Security or credit card numbers!) Locate a few empty binders (we usually have an abundant supply available at Impact Thrift!), a box of sheet protectors or a 3 hole punch, a label for the binder spine and you’re ready to get started. A notebook (or 2) for recipes, one for contact info, another for craft project inspirations and you’ve developed a system to organize your paper and stay organized!

a semi organize kitchen cabinetWeek 5… Your Kitchen.  

The things you use often are front and center but… do you ever look in the back of your kitchen cabinets? In the dark recesses where unused baking dishes go to hide? Clean out those cabinets and free your serving bowls! Perhaps you’ll find something hiding that will come in handy at your next family party or something that you don’t even recognize (where in the world did that come from?) If you haven’t used those items since you (or some mystery person) placed them in your cabinet… consider donating them as well.

Enjoy your accomplishment as you cross one item off your list after another!

Clearing clutter, clears your mind!

 

By the Chimney with Care…

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Felted Sweater Christmas Stockings hanging from a mantle“The stockings were hung by the chimney with care
In hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there” Clement C. Moore

 

Christmas stockings may hang from your mantle, along your stair rail  or even under you windows… but where did this tradition of gift-filled stockings originate?

Tradition tells a story, originating in the early 19th century, of a kind nobleman whose wife had passed away after a long illness. The nobleman and his three daughters were heartbroken. After a series of misfortunes, the nobleman and his three daughters moved into a peasant’s cottage where his daughters did all of the cooking, cleaning and sewing.

As his daughters grew older, the once nobleman became even more depressed as he could not provide a proper dowry for their impending marriages.

One night the daughters washed their stockings and hung them by the fire to dry.  Saint Nicholas, knowing the despair of the father, stopped by the gentleman’s house. He saw that the family had gone to bed and noticed the daughter’s stockings. Saint Nicholas then took three small bags of gold from his pouch and threw them one by one down the chimney and they landed in the stockings.

The next morning when the daughters woke up, they found their stockings contained enough gold for them to get married. The nobleman was able to provide his daughters with proper weddings and they lived happily ever after.

cut_around_patternYour family tradition may be to hand a stocking for each child or family member… and even the family pet!

Making your own stockings is a great way to spend some family time together. All you need are a few wool sweaters, some yarn and a hand-sewing needle with a big eye. Follow these simple instructions… 

  1.       A.  Start by “felting” your 100% wool sweaters. Choose sweaters with great knitted in designs in colors that compliment your decorations. If you own sweaters that might be out-grown or have holes, use those… or shop thrift to find fabulous sweaters at very discounted prices. Place your sweaters inside a lingerie laundry bag and wash them using hot water and cold rinse. Felt light sweaters separately from dark as this process can create a lot of lint. Lay them flat to dry.
  2. Using an old Christmas stocking as a pattern, or download our pattern. Place the pattern on the sweater with the top opening of the stocking at the lower edge of the sweater.  Cut around the pattern on the line (or just outside the edge of your stocking) through both layers of sweater.
  3. Pin around the outside edge of the two layers cut, leaving the top edge open.
  4. Thread approx 4 yards of yarn onto your needle. Pull ends to meet so you will work with a double strand of yarn. Begin on the top right of the stocking and pull needle through leaving approx 6”. Tie a knot around stocking to anchor thread. Sew both layers together around the outside edge, ending at opposite edge from where you began. Be careful not to sew across top opening.
  5. Add a tab to hang your stocking: Using the remaining 4 yarns of yarn, cut 12 lengths of 12 inches each. Tie a knot at one end, split into 3 groups of 4 strands and braid to end. Knot end and trim. Use the 6” ends of yarn from the beginning of your blanket stitch to tie around the knots securely attaching tab to stocking. OR cut a 6” section from the sweater cuff or collar and secure to top right of stocking in same spot with the yarn and perhaps a button.

A new family tradition has been created!

Click here for printable directions…  and have fun!

 

Silent Auction Worthy

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Two Meda Chairs, one with arms, one without on Silent Auction at Feasterville Impact Thrift StoresSo items arrive as donations. They look like average items… desk chairs in fact.

Two people look at the matching desk chairs in questions and one says… Trash while the other says Silent Auction!

Begging the question, what makes items such as these Silent Auction worthy?

Lets follow the process…

Two chairs arrive together at our donation processing center from a donation pick up by one of our truck crews. One chair is in excellent condition, the matching chair has no arms. The chair with arms was cleaned, priced and ready to go to one of our stores when someone walked by and noticed its artful lines and extraordinary construction. The second chair is found in an area designated for trash…it is rescued and reunited with it’s twin.

We look at each chair and discovered a name on the underside… some online research is done. What do we discover?

Designed by Alberto Meda in 1996, “the Meda Chair successfully combines comfort, technology and a new aesthetics. The comfortable and flexible armchair follows the movements of the user’s body – even though it deliberately does not rely on any complicated mechanisms. The covers are stretched taut over the backrest and this ensures elastic support for the back and when sitting.” Read more on the Vitra U.S. website…

The prices we see online are staggering… ranging from $997 to almost $3,000 per chair! Whoa baby! We could put a price on the chairs, sell them individually or as a set. Watch them sit there week after week as the price comes down… or…

Silent Auction…. here we come…

By placing these chairs as a set in our Silent Auction, the market (that means you) set the price.

James Mont Asian-inspired chair on Silent Auction in Feasterville Impact Thrift Store

Another chair arrived also as a donation pickup on one of our trucks….

much less question that this is a desirable and interesting item:

A modern interpretation of the traditional Chinese Ming chair. This Vintage James Mont style Black Lacquer Oriental Side Arm Chair was crafted by the Century Chair Company, circa 1960.  Black Lacquer Finished. Ornamental Brass Trim. Dimensions: 27″ Width x 27″ Depth x 31″ Height (Seat Height 18″)

Both the Meda Chairs and the James Mont chair are currently open for bid at the Silent Auction in our Feasterville location!

Our Silent Auction continues until there have been no bids for 7 days! Learn more about Impact Thrift Stores Silent Auction…

Silent auction is not limited to furniture… take a look at these other wonderful items currently available at our Feasterville Store’s Silent Auction:

Hand Carved Cuckoo Clock

Artist, Wayne Morrell created this beautiful oil painting in the early 20th century. A masterpiece!

From Donations… to Furry Friends… Pennypack Pays it Forward

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If you are wondering if your younger children are old enough to participate in community service projects, all you have to do is take one look at a group of fourth graders from Pennypack Elementary, and there’s your answer…

4th Graders from Pennypack Elementary School in Hatboro-Horsham PAYES!

These enthusiastic ten year olds are participating in the Impact LIVE Leadership Program, and are positively changing the Hatboro-Horsham community one donation at a time…but more than that, they are going above and beyond, in a very creative green way, to help a local pet store find dogs a loving home.

The primary focus of the Impact LIVE program is to inspire students of all ages to think beyond themselves and consider how they can organize, promote and host a collection drive event at their school to help families and children in crisis. As part of the program, the Pennypack students had the opportunity to take a field trip to the Hatboro store, for a behind-the-scenes tour, and an orientation; which taught the eager minds how donating diverts items from landfills, and is actually another form of recycling.

Pennypack students in front of Hatboro Impact Thrift Store

The students were excited to learn the various ways their generous donations will be “recycled” into cash to support the 16 locally-based charities Impact Thrift financially supports.

Just when it seemed like the morning with the students couldn’t get any better, the fun was kicked into overdrive. The students participated in an upcycling project where they learned how to make super cool dog tug toys from donated fleece blankets, sweatshirts and t-shirts.

By braiding strips of fabric cut from the donated items, the children were able to transform what was once a used good, and put it to good use! Not only did the students have a chance to learn a new craft, they raved about wanting to make more dog tug toys for their own pets, or for Christmas gifts for the pets of family members and neighbors.

A local pet store in Feasterville immediately fell in love at first sight when they saw the personalized upcycled dog toys that the students made, and decided to use the toys as give-aways to anyone who takes a dog home during an adoption event in partnership with an animal rescue organization.

From donations… to adoptions… Pennypack Elementary School pays it forward to benefit both the Hatboro and Feasterville communities at large.

We all could take a lesson from the students at Pennypack Elementary. If you’ve got a puppy who loves to play tug-of-war, take your fleece scraps and make him an easy-peasy rope toy…

Here’s how!

Gather some fleece from old sweat pants, sweatshirts or blankets. Cut the fleece into three 3-inch by 40-inch strips. Cut right across shoulder and side seams – they add texture to the toy! For a large dog, you might want to double up and cut 6 strips.  That’s it!

Mix and match your different colored strips to make a colorful toy.

Holding all three (or six) strips together, tie them in a knot at one end. Begin to braid the long strips of fleece. If using six strands, hold the strands together in sets of two while you are braiding.

Make a basic braid by pulling the left-most strand over the center strand and tug tight. Next, pull the right-most strand over the now center strand  and tug tight. Continue braiding in this manner, braiding the fleece as tightly as possible for a sturdy toy. An easy way to get a really tight braid is to put the knot between your knees and keep braiding. Braid until the toy is slightly longer than your desired length and tie the other end in a knot.

finished braided dog toy upcycle from old sweatshirts and tshirtsTrim the ends of the fleece and your toy is finished! If you’d like to give your pal another place to grab on to the braids, just tie a few knots in the finished braid.

Daisy plays with her new tug toyHave fun playing with your furry friend! And remember, the toy is washable, so when it gets slobbery and gross, you can just revive it with a good washing and drying.

Click here for a printable version of this project! (It is the first on the list of pdfs on Impact Thrift Stores “For the Home” page.)

 

~ post by Tamika Miller

Deliverance Evangelistic Temple… Committed to Serving the Community

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Nestled in the Heart of Norristown, is a Church Committed to Serving the Community.Deliverance Temple, under the servant leadership of Bishop Sandra Coston

It wasn’t long after I stepped inside the welcoming doors of Deliverance Evangelistic Temple, that I realized the churches’ strong sense of responsibility to reach out to the world outside their walls. Deliverance Temple, under the servant leadership of Bishop Sandra Coston, provides meals to neighboring families, as well as tutoring, literacy programs, computer classes and a wide variety of outreach programs to hospitals, nursing homes and prisons; all intended to meet the social, economic, educational and basic human needs of the residents of the greater Norristown community. Therefore, the partnership between Impact Thrift Stores and Deliverance Temple was natural and effortless; as we came together seamlessly to host a collection drive to benefit families and children in crisis.

During the month of October, the parishioners of Deliverance Temple collected clothing and shoes in support of Impact Thrift’s mission to positively impact local communities through its thrift store operations. Even during the midst, and aftermath, of torrential Hurricane Sandy, Deliverance was able to look beyond their own personal needs to forge ahead, and as a result of their dedication they gathered a multitude of donations.

Deliverance Temple does not ask, if they should serve…they ask where they should serve, who they should serve, and how many ways they can serve others? Impact Thrift is thankful for their dedicated service to helping others in their community, and for spreading that love and concern to our supported charities.

~Tamika Miller

Community Donation Drive Shout Outs…

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At Impact Thrift, we love what we do! And we love to share stories about being connected with the community. It is only through grassroots community interaction, that we are able to fulfill our mission to financially support local charities.

Here’s a special Thank-You, “SHOUT OUT” to all those who recently joined in to help spread awareness that donating has the power to positively impact lives:

Calvary United Methodist Church Ambler PAEileen Wenckus of Ambler, PA, held her 2nd annual collection drive event at her church, Calvary United Methodist.  Eileen, who is a volunteer at her church and local food pantry, is all about giving back! Eileen went the extra mile and got local businesses involved. She encouraged local businesses to give special discounts to anyone who supported her event. What a great idea! Special Thanks to all the shops in Ambler for supporting Eileen’s “Ambler Donate and Save Day”: Antique Garden Cottage, Ambler Bake Shop, Ambler Golf Shop, Jackets ’n Things, Holistic Apothecary, and No Bare Walls.

Laird Donation Drive fills our truck in Chalfont PaBarb Laird of Chalfont Pa inspired her whole neighborhood to clean out closets and de-clutter to support her community collection drive event.  Her husband and son were gracious enough to provide hot coffee and Yum Yum donuts to anyone who dropped off a donation. Barb was a little nervous about having a good turn-out…but her nervousness was in vain…she and her family nearly filled our truck, and that’s no easy feat! We had tons of fun trying out some of that work out equipment that her neighbors donated; like that ab rocket twister and manually operated treadmill…who knew a collection drive could beat going to the gym?

Frani Morrione and Anthony Stipa of Keller Williams Real Estate Blue Bell Frani Morrione and Anthony Stipa of Keller Williams Real Estate Blue Bell Frani Morrione and Anthony Stipa of Keller Williams Real Estate Blue Bell joined forces with Impact Thrift to show Plymouth Meeting that they care about families and children in need.  Their collection drive event had all the neighbors talking…in a good way! Their neighbors were very appreciative to have an outlet to donate their unwanted items, where their family treasures would be truly valued and given a new home. It was great to see neighbors gathering around and reminiscing about all the fun times that had together over the years on Loretta Lane; while playfully teasing Bob (the neighbor across the way) as he trimmed his tree to ultimate perfection.

To all those who supported their events, Impact Thrift says, “Thank you for Being Green and Helping Others!”

To host a collection drive event of your own… visit our website to learn more or contact Tamika Miller, Community Outreach Coordinator at 267.387.0030, x5111.

You inspire us!

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A view of Feasterville Impact Thrift Store from the front of the furniture departmentEnter one of our stores and take a moment to look around.

Think about it.

Everything you see is a donation.

Amazing… Awe inspiring…

Unbelievable.

Someone drives up to our back door, empties their car with the help of our staff, smiles and offers a kind word.  About half of you accept a non-profit donation receipt for your income taxes.

A wonderful neighbor dropping a donation off at Impact Thrift Stores Montgomeryville

And then you drive off.

Your donations range from a small bag of clothing or box of books to the contents of an entire house on the Main Line and, quite literally, everything in between… including the kitchen sink!

We don’t know anything about you…

But…

We do know that what you do makes a difference. Period.

Your donation makes a difference in our community, allowing us to provide gently-used or sometimes new merchandise at reasonable prices to people who often can not afford to shop in a retail department store or mall AND provide over 200 jobs to your neighbors, friends and family.

Your donation makes a difference in our world, our environment. You are “recycling” items that you no longer need or use. You are offering those items a new lease on life and offer service to a new owner. You are helping to keep items out of land fills and taking active steps to heal our planet.

Your donation makes a difference in the lives of those helped by the charities we financially support. You are helping to feed a family, educate a child, shelter the weary, insure good health and find a child a forever home, right here in the Philadelphia area.

The truly awe-inspiring part is the anonymity of it all. We don’t know your name. We don’t know your family. We don’t know your motivation. We don’t know your circumstances.

But we thank you.

Sincerely.