Welcome to A Kind Idea…a series all about ideas for spreading kindness all about the land!
I’m going to start us off with an idea that I love (and plan to do several times throughout 2017)….
The Start Over Crate!
And what the heck might a Start Over Crate be? Simple! It’s a crate stuffed full of household supplies to be donated to a woman (or family) ready to set out on her own after being in a women’s shelter. (Of course, this could also apply to a man who is ready to set out on his own from a homeless shelter, but I have a special place in my heart for women starting over after leaving an abusive relationship.)
People leaving shelters often (usually) have very little in the way of supplies or money, so these crates can be a huuuuuuuge help in starting over.
So, how does it work? Easy peasy!
Step One: Get Yourself a Crate
I get coupons for 60% off any item from a craft store pretty frequently. I use those to snag wooden crates (craft stores always have them!) for a low price. Of course, you could also use a milk crate or any other sturdy crate-type-thing.
Why a crate instead of a goofy ol’ cardboard box? Well, because the crate could be way more useful to the person starting over. It can be used for attractive storage, but it can also serve as makeshift furniture. Neat!
Step Two: Fill the Crate
I fill the crate a bit at a time by adding extras to my cart when I’m grocery shopping or picking things up from the dollar store. Actually, a lot of the contents come from the dollar store. You’d be amazed at what a few extra dollars can do when you’re doing your usual shopping!
So, what do you put in the crate? Pretty much anything that will make life a bit easier…
- Toiletries: soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, shaving supplies, lotion, hand soap, etc.
- Kitchen Supplies: cooking utensils, measuring cups, measuring spoons, silverware, etc.
- Cleaning Supplies: all-purpose cleanser, glass cleanser, dish soap, laundry detergent, sponges, gloves, towels, etc.
- Office Supplies: pens, pencils, paper, paper clips, etc.
- Other Stuff: clothes hangers, storage boxes, clocks, coasters, etc.
- Fun Stuff: fuzzy socks, puzzle books, anything you think that anyone would enjoy
And then I have some things that I don’t include…
- Food: You just never know what someone’s allergies and preferences might be. If you want to include food, a gift card for a grocery store may be a better choice.
- Decorative Items: Who knows what sort of style a stranger would like???
- Medications: Though over-the-counter medicine is nice to have, I think it’s best to let people buy their own medications…to avoid allergies and a whole host of other potential problems.
Step Three: Give That Crate Away!
If you don’t already know where or how to contact your local shelter, a quick search online will let you know how to get in touch with the right people. Keep in mind that you will most likely never, ever know who this crate goes to…or visit the actual shelter. The locations of most shelters for abused women are kept super-secret so that stalkers and meanies can’t find them, so you’ll probably drop your crate off at an office. I’ve even met up with a shelter employee at a public place to drop off a crate. (If you go that route, make sure you meet in public…safety first! Not that I think a shelter employee is going to abduct you or anything, but being careful is pretty much never a bad idea.)
Another thing to keep in mind? It’s just fine and dandy if it takes you the whole year to gather the stuff you need to fill a crate. You are being kind and good-hearted and giving someone a surprise boost…no one is “waiting on you to finish that dang crate already” or anything like that. 🙂
What about you? What would you include in a Start Over Crate? Have you ever created a crate of this sort…perhaps as a reverse advent type activity? Do you think you’ll be putting together a crate in the coming months?