Freecycle - have you heard of it? Until recently I hadn't but after reading a blurb in the Trib about it I absolutely fell in love with the idea. Now that I have used it (as a Freecycler and a Freecyclee) I love it even more.
Freecycle is a community of people (all volunteers) that have decided to try and keep good, useable "stuff" out of landfills and instead try to get them into the hands of people that can use them - it's like eBay but completely FREE!
I quickly went to the Freecycle website to sign up but found my own town didn't have a group. However, a few surrounding areas did, so I signed up on three boards in neighboring towns. Within hours the postings (via email) started flying in. People that are trying to get rid of stuff post "OFFERS", people looking for stuff post "WANTEDS". Then it's usually first come, first served, so if something is really a great freebie you had better be able to respond within minutes of the posting. For a few weeks I watched with curiousity at the various items that came across - someone looking for a cell phone because her toddler had thrown hers in a toilet, another offering books on various computer programs, someone else looking for a 2 man tent for his kids, another offering a gas dryer. Wha???? A gas dryer? OMG - I responded to that one as fast as I could and held my breath waiting for an answer. Our own gas dryer had been on the fritz for months and we were dragging our feet knowing we would rather buy a new one than try to repair this one, but not really wanting to part with the money. Now we had the opportunity to grab a FREE dryer? Wow, I was tingling with anticipation. Oh please, please, please let us win this dryer ("win" this dryer? Now the eBayer in me was showing it's face...)
We did "win" the dryer and it is working just fine. It came to Freecycle because that Freecycler had bought a new washer/dryer set when his washer broke down but since the dryer still worked fine he posted it. My husband picked it up that Saturday and things couldn't have gone more smoothly.
Other cool things we have snagged are a maple wood Shaker-style rocking chair (needs a little work but well worth the price - FREE!) a gently used pair of girl's pink snow boots (of course my daughter's FAVORITE pair of shoes are the FREE ones) an interactive Solar System thingy that will be nice when she is a little bit older and a fire escape ladder to keep upstairs "just in case", God forbid we ever need it.
I've since offered a few items myself - one was a queen sized feather bed that we no longer used. Since it is technically bedding I hesitated to donate it or put it in a garage sale thinking who would want something that other people had slept in? I wouldn't! But giving it away for free... that seemed like a good idea. I posted it and within 8 hours I had three people practically begging me for it. WOW! It was that easy? I wrapped it in a large bag, put it on my front porch and when I came home later that day it was gone. I LOVE IT!!
You can check it out at http://www.freecycle.org/. If you don't have a group in your area, maybe you can start one up yourself?