I hate clutter. As soon as I’m finished with something, I give it to a friend, bring it to a consignment shop or donate to a good cause. I am also a big fan of getting free stuff. Not only does it help my wallet, but freecycling is good for the environment too. This weekend, I’ll get to do both. The 8th Free Community-Wide Swap is taking place at Hillside School.
Jane Marcus, the creator and organizer of the event, took the time to speak with me about the swap:
Georgette: How did you come up with this fantastic idea?
Jane Marcus: When driving around town, I’d see items put out on Bulky Waste Day, especially baby equipment, that looked practically new. Also, friends and I would bemoan that we had all this great baby equipment and clothing that we would love to give to someone who could use it, but couldn’t find a place to donate it. I got to thinking that there must be a way to move all these things around town from those that have to those that want.
Georgette: Why is this clothing swap so important?
JM: The past seven swaps have received thousands of donations. Hundreds of people have come from Montclair and the surrounding towns and taken these items, all for free. The reuse of these items has had a great impact on our town, and there is a wonderful feeling of community at the swaps. One time, a couple came in who were expecting their first child and some volunteers took them under their wings to help them find great equipment and clothing for their baby. At the last swap, someone was explaining to another person how the swap worked, and she ended by saying, “Everyone leaves here with a smile.”
Georgette: Okay, may we ask how much work you have to do?
JM: For the three weeks prior to swaps, there is a great deal to be done. One of the most crucial parts of making the swaps work is publicity; this involves sending emails to over 300 people and agencies, delivering flyers, posting notices to local websites and media. I also need to secure a date to rent the gym, obtain permits for the swap, make signs and arrangements for any leftovers. And then there is the other crucial part, which is lining up volunteers to work on Friday and Saturday. I could not do it without volunteers. They give so generously of their time–sorting, folding and stacking donations.
Here is what you need to know:
Friday, April 3
Free Community-Wide Swap at Hillside School: Drop-Off Day
Who: Anyone who wants to declutter and/or get free stuff.
What: Bring your gently-used items to Hillside School’s gym today to donate to the swap. Items needed are: clothing, sports equipment, baby gear, books, DVDs, CDs, new, unopened puzzles & games. Do not bring, used carseats, cribs, bikes, computers, text books or opened games & puzzles.
Where: Hillside School, 54 Orange Road, Montclair, NJ, 07042.
When: Friday, April 3 from 3:40 – 6:30 at the gym. If you cannot drop off at that time, email Jane Marcus to try to make other arrangements at email@example.com .
: How did you get this huge, popular event off the ground?
JM: My son was at the Montclair Coop at the time and the Coop would have an annual school-wide clothing swap. My daughter was at Hillside School then, so I approached the PTA with the idea, and they were enthusiastic. The first swap was in December, 2006. We sought donations of books, children’s clothing and baby equipment and opened it to the entire community. It was a success. The upcoming swap will be our 8th. The number of donations–and what we like to call “shwappers”–has grown steadily each time.