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Lent challenge: Get rid of 40 things in 40 days

Originally published on Aleteia, republished with their permission

Declutter and help the less fortunate!

During Lent we want to de-emphasize ourselves and emphasize our dependence on God. Almsgiving (materially sharing with those in need) is one of the three “pillars” of Lent. (The other two pillars are prayer and fasting.) We can give in ways other than money. In giving up things around our house that we don’t need, we can detach from “stuff” while helping others.

Here’s the challenge: During the 40 days of Lent, find one thing each day you no longer need. For most of us, this should be really easy. It could be a kitchen item, a jacket, a bike, an unopened gift hanging around. Go through your closets, drawers, basement, even the garage.

Find someone or somewhere to which to donate it. I’m keeping a bag by the door into which I’ll put my donations, except of course for bigger things. As a reminder for my young adult kids, I’m labeling it “40 Items in 40 Days.” (Lent hasn’t even started and there are already 10-12 items in there… some of us have way too much stuff!)

There are so many places these things can go to good use. Most of my things will go to a thrift shop I love, run by a parish near me. Volunteers man the shop and go through donations to categorize and price. Others come in and buy what they need at far less than new cost. The money supports the parish. You might know of something similar near you.

Think of places that take donations of things in good condition: crisis pregnancy centers take maternity and baby items including car seats, strollers, cribs, Pack-n-Plays; veterans’ groups often take furniture and clothing; parish outreach centers usually take pretty much anything including dishes, sheets and towels in good condition, clothes, toys, books, sports items. The Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul accept most donations. In some cases and in some areas, they even pick up larger things.

As we clear our closets, we can clear our minds. As we declutter we can think of those less fortunate. And be grateful for our blessings.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2462: Almsgiving is “a witness to fraternal charity” and “a work of justice pleasing to God.”