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Do good with donations to the needy

The holiday season is one firmly ensconced in the tradition of exchanging gifts. To address storage issues, some families choose to make charitable donations of some of their past holiday finery in preparation for the arrival of new gifts and goodies.

The average person has many belongings he or she may not need. According to the Self Storage Association, there are 2.3 billion square feet designated to self-storage space in the United States, and one out of every 10 households in the country rents a unit. Many financial analysts say that the self-storage industry is essentially recession-proof. That's because once a person moves items into storage, they're not likely to move it out soon.

Many of the items relegated to self-storage units across the nation could be holiday gifts from years past. But rather than store items that will never see the light of day, why not help a good cause and donate such items to charity?

Families can make donating items prior to the holidays a tradition so that it is something that everyone anticipates and looks forward to.

Much as you would decorate the home or shop for fancy holiday clothing, you can set aside a day for sorting through infrequently used items and preparing them for donation. Doing so can teach children the benefits of generosity, which often goes hand-in-hand with the season.

There are certain organizations that gather used or new toys and other items to give to the less fortunate. Begin with churches and synagogues and inquire if they sponsor or host a collection program. Schools also may hold item swaps to help raise money for parent-teacher associations or to donate to charities.

If you cannot find an organization that serves as the middleman for donations, take it upon yourself to solicit safe houses, hospitals, veteran groups and more to see if they will accept your items.

Encourage family members to give back while gifting as well. While one or two new items will be appreciated, you may want to specify that donations to charities that you support, or helping to fund extracurricular activities, is your preference.

Once clutter has been removed, use this opportunity to install new closet organizers, storage bins, shelving, and any other methods of organization that you prefer. Sort and categorize existing toys and items so that new ones can be added.

When donating items, bring the kids along so they can see how their former toys and books will be put to use by other children who may not have the same advantages. It will serve as a good lesson and may help children walk away with a heartwarming experience.

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