by Evelyn J. Mocbeichel
For me, the first of the year always signals the start of gathering the necessary paperwork needed to work on our taxes. During the year we have collected an assortment of papers and receipts and stored them in a large, accordion file folder. Using topic headings like “contributions”, “medical and dental”, “real estate taxes” and so on, the receipts for these year round expenses were filed in the correct pocket. This makes it much easier to locate the papers, when we need to compile and total these expenditures. Some papers arrive well into January or February, but having a head start compiling the information gives us ample time to figure out and compute our taxes way before the deadline. A master list is kept with a heading that corresponds to each file pocket. When the amounts are totaled, the figure is listed under the heading. When my husband is ready to work on the income taxes, he only has to pick off the figures from this master list. If he needs to check a figure for accuracy or has a question, the paperwork can be found stapled together, by topic, in the accordion file. When taxes are finished, all the papers are put into a large folder, and then moved in a storage box with papers from previous years.
Donations: After exchanging Christmas presents with friends and relatives, we find it always poses a problem where to store new clothing we received. Bulky sweaters, new pocketbooks, boots and a host of glove and scarf sets makes closet and drawer space at a premium. Much of the older clothing we have are still in perfect condition, but have gone unworn for many reasons. Several times a year we go through closets and attic storage and decide what we no longer need. The New Year is also a good time to re-evaluate what we want to keep. There are so many organizations looking for clean, warm clothing that it is a shame not to pass along these unused articles to others that need them.
Ask family and friends to do the same by passing along warm, winter clothing for those agencies providing for needy families. Call your church or house of worship to see if there are clothing drives they are participating in. Many relief organizations ship to countries around the world that are suffering from natural disasters and collection sites are centrally located throughout the county. Watch your local papers for notices about civic organizations holding tag sales or drives looking for donations of clothing or household items. If you have received a new set of dishes, pots and pans, blankets or towels, go through your cabinets and donate the extras you have that are no longer needed. Someone else will be grateful for these items you no longer use.
Books/Toys: In many households young children have more than enough toys and books to keep them happy and busy. In fact, when the children outgrow these items, they end up cluttering up their rooms or finding their way into attic and basement storage. Don’t let these books and games gather dust and go unused. Go through your child’s room and see what is not being played with or read any longer. Keep the favorites or “sentimental” items you feel are important to the child, but pass along the other things to children that may not be as fortunate. How many stuffed animals does your child really need? If the toys and books are in good condition, find a children’s group home or hospital ward to donate them to. Sometimes local day care centers will accept donations of play equipment or educational materials that can be used for their classes. Call up your church and see if they need items for the church nursery or Sunday school classes. Maybe the church can put you in touch with organizations or shelters that are collecting these items. We should be thankful for what we have and to teach our children that sharing with others should be a natural part of their life. Donating our extra items is a good example for them and teaches children to recycle things they no longer want. This is an ideal way to clean out our overstocked shelves and closets, while thinking about people that will benefit by these donations.