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52 Weeks of Donations My life changing experience in 2016

It was almost a year ago when I looked around my house at the aftermath of the Christmas festivities and made a decision. We had too much. Too many clothes. Too many toys. Too many coloring books. Too much.
Something had to change.

I was having a hard time making room for all of the gifts that had made their way into our home. I felt like the lady in the Goodwill commercial who can barely squeeze another thing into her closet. Everywhere I looked, we were bursting at the seams.

Something had to change.

It wasn’t that I didn’t feel grateful for the abundance of blessings we had received. On the contrary, I was very grateful. I felt an overwhelming amount of gratitude, but also had the realization that we didn’t need this much stuff.

You know the saying. “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” I was sure there were many things jammed into the nooks and crannies of our home that would be treasured more by others than they were being treasured by us.

Something had to change. 

So I set out on a mission. I made a commitment. I called it “52 Weeks of Donations.” I made a goal to donate something every week.

I grabbed a journal and wrote the following:


GoalTo donate something every week in 2016. This is not limited to material possessions. This includes the donation of time and money.

Hopes to Accomplish: Through this exercise, I hope to become more focused on God and where He may be calling me to give. I hope to include my family at different points throughout the year. I hope to live more with outstretched palms, looking to see where needs can be met. Giving freely and not holding on to the possessions that I no longer need that may be a blessing to others.

Giving Donations Charity Foundation Support Concept

These were my hopes and goals.This wasn’t my usual New Year ‘s list of losing weight, eating healthier and spending more quality time with my family. I decided to make this my primary focus of change.

Looking back, I am extremely grateful for that choice.

The first few weeks were spent tackling certain areas of the house. I was on a de-cluttering, donating mission. If it wasn’t being used, or if it didn’t spark joy (yes I read Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying) then it was bagged up and sent out the door. The more cabinets and drawers I opened, the more I was amazed at the amount of stuff we had accumulated over the years. With four kids, that happens quickly.

The reality is nobody needs a cabinet filled to the brim with coloring books – unless you are running a small daycare or coloring camp for the neighborhood kids. Both of which I am not.


As the weeks of donating went on and my home environment was changing, my heart was beginning to be transformed as well. I would look at what I was donating and think, “where could this best be used?” I would drive to the Wheeler Mission bins and to The Julian Center. I became more intentional about my giving.

I became more aware of the needs of those around me. People who needed meals, money or maybe just a smile and a hug.

There are always people to love and to care for. Everywhere you look. There is always something to give. 

Some weeks were harder than others. I remember one week in particular when we were on vacation in Northern Michigan. I was out for a run on a Saturday afternoon and was struck with the realization that I had not donated anything. Not my time. Not my money. Not my possessions, Nothing. I was feeling a little forlorn. I was determined this was going to stick and a week would not be missed.

When I returned to the cottage, it hit me – my husband and I would watch my sister and her best friend’s kids so that they could go out on a double date with their husbands. (Thankfully, my husband is a willing participant in my shenanigans so he happily agreed.)

This is one example from a list of many. Some weeks were easy and others were hard, but the lesson was the same.

There are always people to love and to care for. Everywhere you look. There is always something to give. 

A large corrugated box with a "Toy Donations" sign. Its filled with assorted toys and surrounded by Christmas garland and a toy bulldozer. On a white background.

I started off the year with the realization that something had to change.

Something did change.

My heart changed. My home changed. The lives of my family members changed.

As I look back over the journal I have kept over the last year recording the 52 weeks of donations, I feel completely blessed.

We are all works in progress with a long ways to go. I could say so much more about this, but for the sake of time will stop here. I have decided to repeat the 52 weeks of donations in 2017. I hope to involve my family more. I hope to become more intentional. I hope to give more, learn more and love better.

I cannot wait to see what the next 52 weeks will hold.

Where do you like to serve? What ways do you find yourself giving back?  Please comment below or email jthompson@indyschild.com. I would love to hear from you!

Jennifer Thompson is a stay-at-home mom of four spunky, sweet, kind and sometimes a bit wild children. She has a passion for the written word and thinks that libraries and bookstores are the coolest places ever. When not hanging out with family or writing, she can be found enjoying a good cup of coffee, running, spending quality time with friends, working on some type of project around the house, planning the family’s next trip to her favorite destination – Walloon Lake, Michigan, or very possibly – reading a book.

Jennifer enjoys writing about her parenting experience and outings with her children for Indy’s Child as a freelance writer and blogger and also keeps a personal blog, www.trulyyoursjen.com, that she has fun writing when time allows.

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