Ethics

For the week ending 17 May 2008 / 12 Iyyar 5768

The Gemach Solution

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Question: I have a large collection of clothes and toys that are no longer of any use to me and are taking up valuable space in our home. It seems a shame to just throw them away. What is the right thing to do?

Answer: Your reluctance to discard things that may be of use to others is shared by so many thoughtful people. Thanks to the initiative of some inspired volunteers there is a solution to your problem and theirs.

In many communities in Israel and the world there are Gemachim (used clothes centers) that accept the items you mentioned and channel them to economically underprivileged families. The work is done by volunteers, and the customers are charged a token sum so that they can maintain their dignity while saving the small fortune they would have had to spend on new items.

Israel, in particular, has a large number of such Gemachim that receive shipments from volunteers in North America and England.

Make some inquiries in your own area as to where you can drop off your unwanted items. But keep in mind that you must show consideration for the volunteers as well. This means that you don't ask them to pick up your things and that you don't drop them off at times like before Shabbat and Holidays when it is inconvenient for the receivers.

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