rack of clothing
photo by Oliva Gonzalez for Pixabay

As a military family, it feels like we’re always coming or going. My house and closet seem to be in a perpetual state of sorting; organizing and tossing things before a move; selling or donating things that don’t work when we arrive at a new duty station.

Here are some of my favorite ways to donate things we no longer need, buy and find new-to-us things and sell without hassle. 

Free Cycle

Free Cycle is “made up of 5,340 groups with 9,047,097 members around the world.” This is a helpful network of people trying to keep things out of landfills by having people look locally online or through their app. Items people need are listed under WANTED or items to give under OFFER, all for free!

Their site is simple in a Craigslist-y way and is easily navigable. I’ve seen people offering a rotating pizza oven, wet cat food, or even a guitar. The groups are made by location and have a local moderator to assist if needed. I’ve downloaded the app and am planning to off load some of our gently used items this summer.

Area Facebook Sales/Auction Pages

two laptops with hands reaching out, one handing cash to another handing a shopping bagI love getting a good deal. Through our last several moves, I’ve found many items on local area Facebook pages. Our current post has an auction page where people start bidding on any item for $1, and then it goes up from there in the space of 24 hours. I have set many reminders on my phone to catch the last ten minutes from an auction and hopefully win the item.

My best score was a bike for $45! The family I bought it from was thrilled to get it out of their garage a week before their PCS. The rush from winning at the last second wasn’t bad either. I’ve also seen excellent community sales groups. Someone graciously bought our kitchen table and chairs the week before we moved from San Antonio, and we were thrilled to help them carry it to their truck.

My least favorite part of selling on Facebook sales pages is when I’ve posted something for $50 and someone messages me asking if I’ll take $15. But I’ve learned my lesson and post “Price is firm.” I am most active in groups that have strict guidelines about meeting in public places and where people remain drama free. 

Thrift Store

box with used booksMany installations have thrift stores such as an Airmen’s Attic or a store in partnership with YMCA or the Salvation Army. 

One of my favorite parts of shopping at our on-post thrift store is the variety of items I can find from all over the world. As people are offloading unwanted treasures to the thrift store, I’ve been lucky to see pottery from Europe, antique Christmas plates, and items from IKEA that I sadly cannot purchase new in Alaska. 

My kids love that the books are 10 cents and that I am a sucker; they get one every time. God bless whoever donated the 30 American Girl books I found the week before Christmas.  We also donate frequently, and it makes me chuckle when I see our things that I bought at a thrift store at another duty station, hanging there priced for more than I paid for them several years ago.  

I’ve had great luck with seasonal items because we all know the PCS itch where you have to get rid of ALL THE THINGS. So thank you to the families who dumped their Spring decor just in time for me to pick it up!

Additionally, I realize nearly every community has local donation centers such as women’s or homeless shelters or crisis and domestic violence centers which are a great place to start your giving. You can search for one locally hereSome charities actually have free donation pick up

As you start or continue your spring cleaning, pre-PCS dumping, or are looking to bargain shop in your new location, check these out and tell us what’s the best thing you’ve found or your favorite place to give.