Make Space for the New Year

Clear out the old and make way for the new! Living in a home bogged down with things we don’t use (or sometimes even want) is no way to kick off the New Year. Freshly curated, cleaned-out spaces, clear countertops, and streamlined closets and cupboards all make room for clearer minds and new treasures in the year ahead.


The first step to clearing out unused and excess items from your home is to identify your trouble spots.  Be it a clothes or linen closet, an overcrowded kitchen cupboard, or a junk drawer that barely closes, most of us can admit to having at least one area that really needs to be cleaned out, reorganized, and hopefully purged of unnecessary items.   Once you’ve identified your trouble spots, get out your calendar and clearly dedicate days and times to tackle each area. When said date rolls around, grab a cup of caffeine and label some boxes or bags: “Keep,” “Move to Where I Use It,” “Get Repaired,” and “Donate.”

Now it’s time for the hard part.

Most of us have a tough time letting go of things; that’s why we have such a build-up of stuff in the first place. Whether we’re holding on to items for sentimental reasons, out of guilt (Aunt Judy made this with her own two hands), or for fear that we won’t be able to replace it in the future, actually getting rid of things – rather than just moving them to another part of our home – is typically the most difficult part of the process.

But unless you’re actively using something or have a very specific use for it in the near future – say, the dish set your son would like for the apartment he’s moving into in May – many of the things we hold onto ultimately just take up valuable space and psychologically weigh us down.

I have found that the best way to let go and give something away is to find a way the item in question can be of immediate use to someone else or support an honorable cause.  If you can actually visualize how someone else is going to benefit from the gifting of your less-than-cherished stuff, it makes bagging it all up so much easier.

The following local charitable organizations will all accept your gently-used goods and put either the goods themselves, or proceeds from the sale of them, to the better of our community.  What better motivation could there be for tackling that overstuffed hall closet right away?

If you are cleaning out your clothes closet, both the Junior League of Westchester-on-Hudson’s Nearly New Shop and Career Closet are great places to consider donating your gently-used current fashions.

Career Closet, an organization that provides interview and office-appropriate attire for women actively moving from welfare into the workforce, is located in the Congregational Church on State Street in Briarcliff Manor, and accepts women’s business attire from the last 2-3 years, scarves, and handbags.   You can drop donations off on Saturdays between 9am –  12noon.  The Nearly New Shop, located in the Junior League building at 35 S. Broadway in Tarrytown, accepts both men’s and women’s current fashions Thursday – Saturday between 10am – 5pm.  The proceeds from the shop’s sales support the League’s local programs that focus on spreading reading and writing, financial, and nutritional literacy in our community.

Your stained, pilled, or just plain dingy bed linens, blankets, and towels will be greatly appreciated by Paws Crossed Animal Rescue, a no-kill shelter in Elmsford.  In addition to providing a safe haven for neglected, abandoned, and abused animals, Paws Crossed is part of the Canine Rescue & Rehab program with Children’s Village, an organization for youth with troubled backgrounds.  The program gives Children’s Village teens the opportunity to work with and train dogs from Paws Crossed, providing a unique healing and confidence-building activity for this at-risk youth.  Donations of old blankets, towels, sheets, and comforters (no pillows) can be dropped off at the shelter on Monday – Friday from 11am – 3pm and on weekends between 10am – 4pm.

When cleaning out your kitchen and living areas, consider taking unused china, glassware, artwork, housewares, and small appliances to The Cherry Door Thrift Shop on Main Street in Tarrytown.  This thrift shop’s proceeds benefit Phelps Memorial Hospital. They accept donations Tuesday and Wednesday from 1 – 4pm and Saturday from 11am – 4pm, but encourage calling first at 914-631-0470.

Need to purge that teetering stack of magazines?  The Warner Library in Tarrytown accepts good-condition books, CDs, DVDs, and magazines year-round. News and Business magazines should be no more than six months old, but shelter magazines can date back 1-2 years. Donated items are collected on the table just inside the side door near the parking lot and can be dropped off anytime during library hours.  Your items will either find their way to the Library’s shelves or into one of their bi-annual book sales. The proceeds from the sales go to the Friends of the Library who fund a variety of library programs from computer classes to children’s events to technical equipment.

Perhaps the easiest, all-encompassing way to donate clothing and household items, also helps give back to our servicemen and women.  The Veterans of Westchester organization accepts men’s, women’s, and kids’ clothing and shoes, toys and stuffed animals, linens and drapery, kitchenware, and small appliances.  You can schedule a residential pick-up on their website,, or by calling 914-637-8387.  This amazing pick-up service not only allows you to compile all of your donations into one large collection, it will force you to meet a specific deadline – the pick-up date! The proceeds made from the sale of your goods will support programs for local veterans including several VA food pantries, the Tower of Hope Canine Training Program which trains service dogs for wounded veterans, and the Recreational Office at Montrose for PTSD and Treatment of Veterans.

I hope these local programs inspire you to clear out, help out, and make space for new joy in the year ahead!

Kitty Burruss is an interior designer, wife, and mother who LOVES to clear out closets and make room for new things.

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About the Author: Kitty Burruss