Come Clean: It’s Time To Clear Out The Clutter and Do Some Good

Let Those Treasures Go—And Make Room for What Matters to You

Unlike other icy, snowy and utterly frozen parts of the country, the Bay Area has been basking in some spring-like temperatures for a few weeks already. As the days get longer and the mercury edges upward, I’ve spotted plenty of my neighbors venturing outdoors and puttering around in their garages.

Some are sweeping or repotting houseplants. Others are thinking about holding a yard sale to clear out unneeded items.

Of course, I can’t resist finding a financial angle to spring cleaning. In fact, I found two! First, you’ll score a deduction on your taxes by donating your unwanted sports equipment, clothing and shoes, kitchen items and furniture to deserving non-profits. And second, you’ll be making space in your home and your life for what really matters.

Our living spaces (and our financial plans) serve us best when they reflect the values we cherish. It’s liberating to know that the money we work so hard to earn is a powerful tool we can use for education, pleasure, comfort and security. And it’s just as freeing to have a home that holds only objects that have meaning to us and are useful.

But where to send those unwanted, unneeded items? Goodwill and InnVision Shelter Network are always great choices. I’d also like to share a few resources for those hard-to-place items that might be stockpiled in your garage or closets:

Old bicycles

Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition (650-269-6051) is happy to take gently used children’s bicycles and tricycles for donation to needy kids. The coalition might even be able to pick them up. Contact Dave Fork at

Cardinal Bike Shop in Palo Alto (650-328-8900) will take any size bicycle (adult or child), functional or not. Bikes that cannot be rehabbed for donation to Shelter Network will be recycled. Drop off bikes at the shop.

Prom, bridesmaid or cocktail dresses 

The Princess Project provides gorgeous free prom dresses to disadvantaged Bay Area teens. Dresses should be fashionable and in good condition. Call 415-269-6667 or visit for more information. Collection for prom season starts in February, so now is the perfect time to purge your formalwear collection.

Musical instruments

Music in Schools Today has been distributing usable band and orchestra instruments to public schools since 1990. Call (415) 392-9010 or contact for more information on collection sites.

Have an odd item that needs a home? Email me and I’ll see if I can help you make a clean sweep.