Off The Shelf

Try to “declutter for a cause” this February


Dana Ryals, Librarian

As winter drags on and cabin fever creeps in, many of us find we are spending a lot of time in our homes and feeling cramped. 

I would like to offer a way to combat cabin fever, help others, and become happier in the process. 

February is “declutter for a cause” month.  Most people have far too many things that are cluttering up their homes.  Instead of hanging on to these unwanted items, consider removing them from shelves, cabinets, closets, and basements in order to donate them to a local charity that helps those in need. 

Here are a few high demand items from area charities:


Cleaning supplies such as all-purpose cleaner, disinfectant wipes, window & floor cleaner, sponges or scrubbers, kitchen and bathroom cleaners.  Household supplies including dish and laundry soap, brooms & dustpans, mops & buckets, small garbage cans and bags, laundry baskets, sheet sets, and twin-sized blankets made of cotton or wool. 

Also needed are hygiene supplies including bath and hand towels and wash cloths, tissues, toilet paper, and paper towels, travel & family sized soaps, shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, deodorant, and disposable razors and shaving cream.  Porchlight does not accept clothes.  Drop off at 1708 Thierer Road, Madison.

Salvation Army
of Dane County

Towels, baby bottles, sippy cups, socks, adult t-shirts, storage totes, strollers, and Pack n’ Play pens (for kids that stay at the shelter).  Drop off during business hours at 3030 Darbo Drive, Madison.

St. Vincent de Paul

Clothing, furniture and household items that are clean in working condition and able for resale, and non-perishable food items.  They have seven different drop off locations, so check their website for the nearest location.

Not only is cleaning out closets good for others, it is good for us too! Feng Shui, an ancient Chinese art and philosophy, supports the idea that our surroundings create an energy that can either stimulate us or bring us down. 

One Feng Shui principle for creating harmony in our space is to remove excess items and clutter to bring in happiness.  What a perfect task for a cold winter day!  There are several books in the libraries that can be checked out for inspiration.  A few titles that we have in our Madison College libraries that I would like to recommend:

• “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo.

• “The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own” by Joshua Becker.

• “Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism” by Fumio Sasaki.

• “Unstuff Your Life!: Kick the Clutter Habit…” by Andrew J. Mellen.

So as the winter blues start to settle in, lets pull up our sleeves and clean out our homes to find items to donate to others in need.

Not only will many people in need be grateful for the donation, we just might find happiness under those piles of clutter.