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Ask Anyone

damaged goods?

Here’s a question for you: I’ve got a lot of clothes I’d like to weed out of my closet. Some of them are stained, have holes, etc. Can those go to Goodwill or St. Vincent DePaul? I feel like they make fine work clothes, I just have all the work clothes I need. But my friend says it’d be wrong to donate damaged stuff—that it’s degrading to the people who shop in those places. What do you think?

Would-be Philanthropist

The Shutterbug says: As the saying goes, it never hurts to ask. As long as the clothing is functional and not completely tattered, give the items a good cleaning, bring them in, and let the organization decide if they are worthy donations or not. The possibility of donating is better than not making any attempt at all. And as for the completely tattered items? Start your very own rag bag to cut down on paper towel usage. Might as well get a jump on spring cleaning, the weather certainly is!

The Omniscient One says: Are you kidding? At places like Saks and Bloomingdale’s in NYC they pay top dollar for “distressed” looking clothes that come in faded colors with tears and holes already in them. Goodwill should take your donations and put them on the high priced rack.

The Practical Cogitator says: One person’s trash is another persons treasure. Donate your unwanted items to a charity and let their employees or volunteers decide what is “quality” enough to put on the rack. Some of these places even have staffers who mend items. The Goodwill and St. Vincent DePaul are great organizations, but please don’t forget places like Vive De Casa, Amvets and the Veterans Association. With all these soldiers returning from Iraq and unemployment the way it is, seems like the veterans could use your donations now.

Smart Money says: We have this argument all the time at home. But I know the truth. Charitable organizations go through your trash and weed out the inappropriate crap. never know. Donate away!

Shopaholic says: It depends on the severity of the damage. If it’s a small hole that can be mended or a stain that can be removed, I would donate to your local thrift shop. Just because it has a little flaw doesn’t mean it should be thrown in the trash.

more damaged goods?

I have a cousin who was real delinquent when he was in his teens and early 20s. He stole, did scary drugs, I don’t really know what else, but it was so bad that my uncle basically disowned him, kicked him out of the family.

It’s been about 10 years, and now my uncle is having regrets. He’s back in contact with my cousin and wants him back in the family. He’s started bringing him to family gatherings—birthdays, holidays, things like that. The guy seems sober now, but I don’t really know or trust that. I feel like my uncle, having made a unilateral decision 10 years ago, is making another unilateral decision now. I’m not much for confrontations, and I don’t want to be the bad guy here, so I’m not about to tell my uncle he can’t make amends with his son, or that he’s not welcome. What should I do?

Nervous Nephew

The Omniscient One says: How many family gatherings can you possibly have? Your uncle and cousin have to work out their own relationship. You should stay out of it.

The Practical Cogitator says: Are you the same person you were 10 years ago? Are you holding the same job? Do you still have the same hobbies and habits? Ten years is a long time—people grow, change, mature. Just because he had a rough patch in his 20’s doesn’t mean he should be walking under this cloud of shame all through his 30’s and beyond. This is your cousin, your family. Listen, Cuz, it might be nice if you showed the guy some support, seems like he’s trying. Your uncle is clearly trying to keep his family together and mend fences. I suggest you welcome your cousin to the holidays, birthdays and family gatherings. If you can’t do that, Simon Pure, then maybe you are the one who should refrain from attending.

The Straight Skinny: I’m afraid I’m not really clear on all these unilateral decisions your uncle is making. Are you in the mob? Why is he making all the choices? Do you still sit at the kids’ table at Thanksgiving?

This is your cousin, and if you want to talk to him, go ahead. If not, then don’t invite him to your house. Similarly, your uncle can do whatever he wants to do, whether that be to talk to his son (it is his son, isn’t it?) or not.

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