Spring is late this year. You’ve noticed. Spring cleaning is late this year, too. We’ve noticed. So begins this series of tips and resources for the season of unjunking, renewing, brightening, and simplifying.

One of the biggest chores this time of the year is closet cleaning. Especially for you shop-a-holics. Closet overhauls should yield two piles: The consignment heap (more on that in a future post) and the thrift store stuff.

In the thrift store pile are your clean, well-loved, but not junky basics. This pile takes the non-designer wardrobe pieces that consignment won’t take, but it’s not holey socks and stained sweatshirts. See also: any clean, working-condition, nice-enough household and decor items that you no long want or need.

Because these days everything matters, and because even your cast-offs are worth something, you’ll want to consider where you take these pieces. Research the charity shops and thrift stores in your area to see which aligns with your principals and values, and which does the most the good.

Or, let us do the research for you. Consider the Lifelong AIDS Alliance Thrift Store.

—The organization’s Mike Kola told me that more than 85 cents of every dollar raised at the shop goes to services (food, counseling, insurance, transportation, housing) or programs such as the Chicken Soup Brigade; so if they sell your American Apparel jeans for $12, about ten of that makes a big difference in someone life.

—The Lifelong AIDS Alliance Thrift Shop also donates your used items to their clients; Kola says that in ’08 about $40,000 worth of kitchen items, clothing, and other household goods went directly from the back of your car to the backs of folks who really needed the stuff — free of charge.

—Each week, Target donates clothing to the shop. If it’s good enough for them, well … Target stores also donate food to the Lifelong AIDS Alliance each week; these food donations and others are often funneled to veterans assistance programs that Lifelong has partnered with. The goal is always that all of gets used.

Your assignment this week: Consider the donation options available in your area, and get at least one closet cleared out by Friday. (If it helps, it’s my assignment, too.)

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Need professional help? Personal stylist/wardrobe experts like Tiffany Wendel can come over and help you decide what you no longer need.

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