It’s finally spring, and as the weather warms up, we just know all of you are itching to clean out your homes and garages, and donate the things that you can’t use! Enter Alpha House! We put this blog post together to provide some tips for spring cleaners who are ready to purge some of their items but want to avoid the landfill.

Alpha House receives many different forms of donations throughout the year. These are in-kind items like clothing, hygiene products or food, or monetary donations through cash, credit card, cheques, or securities. As people are spring cleaning their homes, we have some new ideas to reduce unnecessary clutter in your home while supporting vulnerable individuals in our city. Let’s delve into some unique and interesting ways to give while refreshing our homes; “Out with the old,” as they say, “In with the… giving!”

Reusable bags are all the rage now (for good reason). For most of us, it’s become a habit to bring two or three bags to the store when grabbing groceries. But I bet every one of us knows the feeling of getting to the store, hands empty, shoulders slumping when we realize we forgot the reusable bags at home… again. And now we’re shelling out a dollar for yet another reusable bag, and who’s telling how many we have accumulated over the years. We aren’t proponents of throwing them away- that defeats the environmentally conscious purpose. But Alpha House is happy to take the abundance of reusable bags off of your hands as part of our partnership with the City of Calgary’s Bag it Forward Initiative. Our main building is a designated drop off location for reusable bags. Natalia Gonzalez, a City of Calgary Waste Diversion Specialist who reached out to Alpha House for this initiative back in 2023 tells us “the Bag it Forward initiative is a way to minimize the effects of the Single Use items Bylaw while supporting vulnerable Calgarians.”

Providing a reusable bag to Alpha House ensures our clients can access bags to keep their belongings in a more structured way. Often the items that they do have are stolen or lost, and a reusable bag can also be easier than trying to carry it by hand or using a ripped plastic bag to keep hold of them. During your spring cleaning, if you find that you have an abundance of reusable grocery bags- bring them to Alpha House!

 

The dreaded hall closet clean-up. You’re looking at those shoes from last season, slightly worn, maybe out of season, potentially too small or too big and wondering if they’ll fit right again soon… Shoes you might wear versus shoes someone out on the street definitely needs – consider passing them on to Alpha House. Unhoused folks have shoes that are exposed to the elements and endure continuous movement and do not last as long as our day-to-day shoes might also because they tend to be the only pair of shoes that an individual has and are worn through at a quicker rate. A proper pair of shoes for our clients provides dignity, confidence, and protection from the environment.

Alpha House is always on the lookout for gently worn shoes, especially pairs that could fit our male clients with larger feet. You can donate gently used pairs of shoes anytime (drop off at our Shelter – instructions below!). Examples of good shoes to donate would be running shoes, streetwear shoes such as Vans or Converse, or boots.

 

Junk cars – let’s talk about them! Do you have a car that has been on your property or in your driveway for a while that you just aren’t sure what to do with? Or maybe you’re ready for a newer vehicle- but don’t want to go through the hassle of trying to sell your current one? Enter our partner organizations, Homeless Cars, operating in Western Canada for just over a year now.

Homeless cars is a Canada wide organization that helps individuals get rid of their unwanted cars for a returned tax credit. These cars are then taken apart for scrap parts and the money that is made goes to organizations working to support those experiencing homelessness! This is an unconventional way of providing donations, but if you have a car that is no longer beneficial to you, homeless cars may be for you! Spring cleaning at its….oddest? No, it’s finest!

When Homeless Cars’ original executive director attempted to donate her late father’s vehicle, and realized that there was no way to donate the vehicle to a Canadian cause that she believed in, she created their organization. Current Director of Operations and Communications, Gillian Speziali told us, they “truly believe in keeping the money received in the communities that they are received in.” If you donate a car in Calgary- the money that is received from the donated vehicle stays within Calgary. You can even request for the proceeds from the vehicle go directly one of you charity of choice that they support- like Alpha House.

The vehicle does not have to be drivable, it just has to have most of its important parts like the engine. Homeless Cars guarantees a minimum $700 tax receipt for vehicles donated with some being more depending on the value of the vehicle. Homeless Cars accepts any cars that you are interested in donating, including higher value vehicles.

The process is easy! A tow truck can come out for the vehicle within the day of request, and you will have your tax return back to you by the end of the following month.

 

We know, we know- you just can’t wait to head out there and start your spring cleaning now right? Well you’re not alone at least – Alpha House is getting into the spirit too! Throughout June, our seven Place Based Supportive Housing buildings are hosting community cleanups with an aim of picking up debris and garbage throughout the neighbourhood (see our social media for details coming soon).

Now we have provided three unconventional and interesting ways to help vulnerable folks in need, and hopefully given you the boost you needed to tackle your spring cleaning.

If you’ re willing to donate any of the items noted above such as your gently worn shoes or your reusable bags, drop off should be done at Alpha House’s main building: 203 15th Avenue SE; we can accept donations anytime. If you’re donating an old car, visit https:// www.homelesscars.ca/ . Join us in creating a community for everyone.