Monday, August 26, 2019

Act 4: Deseret Industries

This post marks my fourth act of service, as well as the 10% mark of my goal of 40 acts of service before I turn 40 next summer. It feels good to be plugging away towards my goal, it feels good to be looking beyond myself a little, and it feels good to know that I am contributing in whatever small ways I can.

One thing I have begun to enjoy as part of this project, is trying not to hyper-plan everything, and sometimes leaving a little space to see what service opportunies arise as I go about my day. Sometimes that works really well (like donating to Tim's Tiny Toys in my first week), and sometimes that means that I get all the way to Thursday or so without having found a way to serve someone yet. That was what was happening the week before last, and, as I was getting ready for the day, things were feeling a little dire on the old service front. I wanted to do something, but I just couldn't figure out what! That was when I happened to walk into my closet to get dressed, and thought: "there's a lot of stuff I don't wear in here. Why not go through it all and donate what I don't use?"

Me in my closet with the 26 lbs of clothes I donated to Deseret Industries. 
Friends, I spent the next couple of hours sorting through just about everything in my closet, and I pulled out about 26 lbs (or 12 kg - yes, I absolutely got on the scale with that big sack of clothes!) of clothes that I don't want or wear anymore. And that's not counting the pile of clothes that were too worn to give away. I rediscovered a ton of clothes that I forgot that I owned, and have been enjoying wearing them again. It feels a little funny that instead of feeling like I lost 26 lbs of clothes, I ended up feeling like I gained a lot of new outfits, but such is the human brain. Or at least this human's brain.

Okay, I'm feeling the need to clarify at this point exactly how I came to have almost 30 lbs of excess clothes just sitting around in my closet. The simple answer is that I keep my clothes for a long time. Case in point: the shirt I'm wearing in that photo is about 7 years old, and the skirt is.... 17 years old. I've always done my own thing style-wise, so my clothes are never really out of style, because they were never actually in style in the first place. So clothes get a much longer shelf life when the only thing you're worrying about is if they are whole, clean and still fit. But it does also mean that things have a tendency to pile up in your closet. Or my closet, as the case may be. The other part of the equation, of course, is that I've had four babies over the lifespan of this particular wardrobe, so my body has been a lot of different shapes and sizes over that time period. As it naturally should.

I debated a little back and forth about whether or not this "counts" as an act of service, when it clearly benefits me so much, and must just be a drop in the bucket for an organization as big as Deseret Industries (more about them in a minute), but I don't think there is a rule that service can only be a good thing for the recipient, and not for the giver.  I quite like the idea of a service transaction where everyone comes out happy. It feels like it sort of balances the scales somehow, if that makes sense.

I debated a bit back and forth about whether or not I was going to donate to Deseret Industries, given that they are the go-to thrift store and donation point in my area, and I did look around a bit for other organizations to give to. But in the end, convenience and familiarity won out when I found myself on the same street as my local DI with my sack of donations in the trunk. They have a donation drive-through, guys.

I am happy to support Deseret Industries in their efforts. They're a thrift store, which is just a good and useful thing for any community to have (imagine all of the unnecessary waste going into landfills if we didn't have a way to pass along the things we didn't personally need anymore), and they also have programs that help people prepare for, and find their way into the workforce. They also do a lot of worldwide humanitarian aid. You can read more about the work Deseret Industries does here, and if you live in the Western United States and want to donate something, you can see their donation guidelines here.  I should mention that DI is run by my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but anyone is welcome to donate or volunteer with them.

All of my service has been fairly anonymous and comfortably faceless up to this point, and I have to admit that I kind of like it that way. I'm nervous that people will think that I think I'm somehow better than the people I'm trying to help, and I'm also just an introverted soul who gets a little uncomfy outside of her comfort zone. In the words of The Animals (although, let's be honest, it will always be Nina Simone singing it in my head): "I'm just a soul whose intentions are good, Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood." But, I'm going to try to challenge myself a little bit to serve in ways that are a little more visible and interactive. And outside of my house. ;)

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