Not sure who else uses FreeCycle but the idea is that people won't throw things away that others can use, thus recycling, and everything is 100% free. I like toparticipate by giving things away and once I got something for free (needed baby food jars WITH lids for a craft project) that I needed!! Anyhow, the deal is if you have something you want, then you posted it, if you have something you don't want you post it, then you coordinate an exchange with other people that want or don't want it. The person keeping the item is generally required to pick up the item, however, if they post they do not have transportation, then the person donating the item knows this ahead of time. I have done both: dropped off items and I have put items on my porch for people before and it works out really well.
I saw last week a person post they needed clothing items for their boys, ages 4 and 10. This was the only information given. So I emailed her back and asked her what sizes her 4 year old wore and what items specifically he needed. Her response was "he's small and he needs everything." So then I got together 2 of everything of the clothing I had just taken downstairs, 2 shirts, 2 pairs of socks, 2 pants, 2 coats, etc. etc. etc. and realized I needed a shoe size and emailed her back, his size was bigger than Dane's so I wasn't able to help with that. Anyhow, I asked her if she wanted directions and she said "I thought you could drop it off." So now, my impatience is growing because she wants something for free, doesn't tell me the size or what exactly she needs, she wants to make it hard to give it to her and now she wants me to spend 45 minutes to transport it to her...rrrrrrr...So Monday I tell her I can, but it won't be until the end of the week because my work schedule is insane and I don't want to go to her neighborhood alone after it's dark. Tuesday, she emails and asks when I will be there. I email back and let her know it will be Thursday or Friday.
So Thursday I can't make it and I go there on Friday after work and I email first to let her know what time I will be there and let her know I will leave it on the porch. As I am driving there I pray for my attitude, because it's raunchy. And then I kind of forget why I am cranky and get lost, but find my way humming along to Christmas music. And I pull up to her house. It's a VERY run down house with a very, very rickety ramp up to the house. She's in a wheel chair excited and waiting for me. I can see how her sons clothing is about 3 inches too short on him and why she was so anxious. She told me how it would take her about 5 hours and missing a day of work to pickup the items and how much she appreciated my time and gifts. I give her a big hug and ask her to email me if the clothes don't fit.
I got back into the truck and had overwhelming compassion for this widow and her children and prayed for them and their situation and asked for forgiveness for being so selfish that I couldn't have made time for her before this.
I went and picked up Dane and after he went to bed I was reading a book about reaching people where they are, and the thing that hit me the most is "reaching people will cost, it will cost, time, money, convenience, comfort and more, but this is what we have been called to do." Ouch, and I remembered, this is exactly why I joined FreeCycle to help other people that have needs and are willing to ask for help. Wake up call!
And finally, I learned what I sound like when I pray generically. "Dear God, I want something. Please read my mind. Patty." and how frustrating that is. By praying specifically He can recognize my specific request, and I can recognize that it's Him that delivers.
So I thought I was done Christmas shopping, but I've got two more boys to shop for.