Sunday, March 09, 2008

Do you Freecycle?

A few years ago I discovered a wonderful subset of people in my county - the Freecycle community. My life has never been the same. I joined Freecycle so that I could start getting rid of some clutter and maybe find a few new treasures along the way. I've found lots of treasures - and many of them in the form of new friendships.

After our house fire almost three years ago (Yikes! Where has the time gone?!) It was the Freecycle community who pretty much single-handedly clothed our family of (then) ten members within about 2 days. The response was immediate and completely overwhelming. The donations piled up on my neighbor's carport (remember Mrs. Scout?!) and we had to call a halt to the generosity lest we get over run with clothing. But they didn't stop at clothing. We also got a replacement for Miriam's most favorite stuffy at the time - a stuffed Dory from the Disney Store, church clothes and shoes, golly the list goes on and on most of which I can no longer even remember because the response was so overwhelming.

A couple of months before Christmas I got an email from one Freecycle friend who said she makes dollhouses and she wanted to provide one for the girls. It was her contribution to the house fire fiasco in order to bring a little sunshine into our lives. About a week before Christmas, she handed off a wonderful little house, complete with furnishings, window boxes, little dishes and miniature food and 3 dolls - one Asian, one Black and one White for the three little girls. They received that as their big Christmas present under the tree in the little rental house the Christmas we were exiled from our home. I couldn't have imagined such a blessing would come from this group! That person has become a dear friend and the continuation of our friendship might be another post...

The other day I picked up a sewing machine which is fast becoming a favorite item of the girls'. That is a gift that will keep on giving over the years, as they hone their skills and keep making new things. Ben once acquired a wonderful mountain bike which served him well for about 6 months before it was stolen. I sure hope the thief is getting lots of use out of it because Ben was sure heart-broken over that.

The Bradley birthing books I got are on their second pregnancy. I'd love to remember where I got those and give the giver a big, fat smoochie. Two simple, outdated books have completely changed my labor method. Somewhere on this blog you can read about Nathan's Bradley birth which was my best labor and delivery yet.

Most recently I responded to a post offering a whole list of books which have been on my Amazon wish list for years. It seemed too good to be true - mostly books about adoption and about parenting kids who come from difficult backgrounds with difficult issues. It was like the list of books was tailor made just for our family. Well, in corresponding with the offerer I found that she also has 10 children - 5 homemade and 5 adopted with special needs! Her children are older - her oldest is a few years older than I - but how neat to connect with someone who has lived a parallel life! I'm hoping I can keep up that friendship and glean lots of wisdom from her experience.

Getting isn't the only way we've benefited from the Freecycle community either. One of my favorite "freecycles" was our old dining room table. The table had been in Tad's family for years, hosting him and his four sibs and their friends and family throughout the years, and when it was time to get a larger one, we decided (after conferring with all Tad's sibs) a well-placed freecycle would be the best home for it. A wonderful young mother came forward and requested the table. She and her husband are a young Catholic couple just getting started on their family and hoping for lots of children. It was a perfect fit. They have since also been the recipients of Tad's breadmaking machine since we've been doing all our breadmaking by hand.

Then there was the woman who came to take some fencing we had. She was going to use it for her goats, it was no longer keeping Pooka from running away. Turns out they are also a homeschooling family, her son is friends with JT and she later put us up in her Chincoteague cottage when Tad and I desperately needed some time away together.

I have a neat friend I made just exchanging small things along the way. The last time I picked up some things from her, we had a wonderful chat and lots of laughs as we exchanged her family anecdotes for my experiences with Extreme Makeover. My sil used to live across the street from her and she is a sweet soul with a great family. I am blessed to have her among my friends.

After we played with it for a couple of years, the atari system we acquired through Freecycle (yes, the ooold one - including Ms. Pacman and Space Invaders!) was passed on to a friend who provided us with the two rocking armchairs Tad and I use in our prayer corner. I'm hoping she'll re-freecycle it once she's had her fun and we can watch it bounce around the county blazing a path of nostalgic joy. The kids said I should have saved it and sold it on ebay for a gazillion bucks but that's just not how Freecycle works. We were blessed by it - it was time to bless someone else.

This doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of the many, many friends I've made and the wonderful exchanges I've had. The moderators for our local group are a very committed group of folks who should be commended for their efforts in bringing a friendlier spirit into the community.

The Freecycle Network can be found nationwide which means there is probably one in your neighborhood too. I've put the link on my link list so check it out and start your own Freecycle adventure.


Anonymous said...

I can attest that our county's freecycle list is GREAT! And I have been lucky enough to be the recipient of some of this poster's great stuff! One day I was invited to come and dig bulbs from her flowerbed and another day I was invited to (f)re(e)cycle her kitchen cabinets. When the flowers bloom in the spring and when I find something neatly stored in my garage, I think of another's generosity via freecycle. In turn, I have given this fellow freecycler some kids toys and something else that I just can't remember right now!
Thanks so much for writing and reading about freecycling! I am a true believer too!
Beth in Joppa

Anonymous said...

Like you I love Free cycle. Just this weekend we were blessed with a beautiful train table & all the acessories. I love using free cycle to pass on my treasure too. My canna bulbs can be seen growing in many yards I drive by now thanks to free cycle.