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Have you noticed lately that your closets are bulging? That your garage isn't really being used to store your car as much as it's storing your junk?

We're all used to giving our homes a good “spring cleaning,” but why not expand it to all year? Regularly going through your possessions to get rid of useless excess is a great way to minimize clutter and improve the feel of your living space.

And while you're at it, why not do something good, not just for your home, but for your community, by donating to a local charity.

There are several easy options when donating:

You can search your local yellow pages or other directory to find nearby area drop-offs. Many of the larger organizations have helpful websites, like Goodwill.org, SalvationArmyUSA.org.

Also be sure to ask around at local churches. Many religious communities will be happy to accept your donations and pass them on to those in need.

For those who have a really heavy load, like furniture or large appliances, many charities offer convenient pick-up services. But remember to call ahead, making an appointment could take up to a week or so.

If you're in a hurry to get some things out of the way, maybe because you're showing your home to sell or having a get together, there are other companies like 1-800-GotJunk (that's also their toll-free number) who can haul your things away, but for a fee. Most junk removal companies will then donate or recycle your stuff.

If you plan to use your donation as a tax deduction, which is a nice added bonus, be sure that you keep an itemized list of everything you've donated. Also keep all documents and receipts from the exchange, and double check to make sure your charity is a qualified tax exempt organization. that

Goodwill offers these tips for donating your possessions:

Donation Dos:

  • Wash or dry-clean clothing.
  • Test electrical equipment and battery-operated items.
  • Include all pieces and parts to children's games and toys.
  • Check with your local Goodwill Industries agency to determine standards for donating computers and vehicles.

Donation Don'ts:

  • Leave items unattended outside a collection center.
  • Donate broken or soiled items.
  • Give items that have been recalled, banned, or do not meet current safety standards.

For more information, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

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