For a couple of months now, I’ve been sorting through the possessions of many an expat in Beijing. No, I haven’t been breaking into homes, but I have been volunteering at Roundabout.
Every time I work at Roundabout’s distribution center in Shunyi, I’m struck by the generosity of the people who donate their time, expertise, and money. They sort books, test electronics, price items for the floor, and assist shoppers. I’ve seen families whose children have benefitted from Roundabout’s help come in just to say thank you. The experience is heartwarming and makes the few hours I can assist each week seem all the more worthwhile.
Yet despite all this good work and cheer, there is a gritty side to the work and that is the task of sorting through the donations. Don’t get me wrong, Roundabout needs people’s donations and this is not meant to discourage anyone from doing so. Still, I thought it might be useful to share a list of things not to donate.
- Open, prescription, and out of date medicines
- Used underwear and socks
- Anything previously used by an animal – such as a dog’s bed
- Copies of magazines over 6 months old
- Computers, monitors, and printers over 4 years old
That is the official guide list from Roundabout’s website, and on the face of it these seem like obvious suggestions. Any of those things will end up in the bin and Roundabout, like any business, pays to have garbage hauled away.
When I asked one staffer about donations, she sighed and said the absolute worst is when people donate cat litter boxes, sometimes even with defiled kitty litter still inside them.
Personally, I’ve had to discard boxes of donated media devices and other electronics that do not work. Roundabout is not in the repair business, so if something doesn’t work, its garbage. One solution is for people to get something repaired before donating it so Roundabout can sell the item or to simply recycle or dispose of it themselves.
One volunteer summed it up succinctly, “Roundabout accepts nice, clean things and sells them to help others.” Sounds simple to me.
If you would like to see a list of current needs, donation drop off points, have items picked up, or get involved, visit Roundabout’s website www.roundaboutchina.com/donate.
Photos: courtesy of Roundabout