Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Reuse and the Gift of Giving

by Dina Sleiman

Yesterday D'Ann wrote a lovely post about "Reducing" clutter and linked it to an amazing spiritual principle of getting rid of the junk in our own lives. One of my best friends, Kim Upperman, would probably be the first to admit that she could use a few lessons in actual decluttering, but her reasons for a cluttery house come out of the best spirit possible.

Kim has the spiritual gift of giving. For as long as I've known her, Kim has been involved in benevolence ministries, but a few years ago, she learned a technique for taking her giving to a whole new level.
She discovered freecycle!!!

Now, anytime Kim sees a great stash on freecycle, she just has to go pick it up in case somebody she knows might need it. Her living room has become a perpetual sorting area for great gently used items that "somebody" might need. And she does a surprisingly good job at sorting through it and divvying it out to all her friends.

You might read this, and assume that Kim and I and all of our friends must live in government housing or a trailer park or something. No. For the most part Kim's circle of friends live and thrive in the surburban Virginia Beach area. But Kim does not believe in throwing good things away. And I agree. It's wasting. It's poor stewardship.

In addition to Kim's passion for giving, God has also given mankind a responsibility to subdue and care for the earth that he has made for us. Not to strip and to rob it blind. Not to turn it into a giant waste dump. To love it and treat it with respect.

Kim largely funded a missionary trip to Romania for one of her many boys (she has six) by picking up "trash" that people dumped on the curbside and selling it at a yard sale. How's that for a good use of resources!

Her lunacy...I mean passion, reached yet another new level recently when she discovered that a clothes drop off near her neighborhood YMCA had a tiny sign on the side near the bottom saying the clothing actually is shredded to make rugs. Kim has now taken to "reallocating" some of the beautiful designer clothing, especially when the bags don't quite make it all the way into the dumpster. She doesn't have a problem with turning raggedy old clothing into carpets, but she knows people assume their nice clothes will be going to others in need, not the shredder mill. Can't you just imagine her sneaking in there at night with her giant maroon van to heist the trash bags full of jeans and shoes?

Okay, I admit that the second picture isn't really Kim. I found it on google and couldn't resist. And while Kim's habit may make for an amusing post, the truth is, I have the greatest respect for her and her gift of giving. She also has a gracious gift of hospitality, and no matter how messy her home with six boys, two dogs, a husband, and her personal recycling center might get, friends are always welcome for conversation and a cup of coffee. Kim puts people first. That's her true gift.

Maybe today this post is a gift to Kim. One of my gifts is encouragement. Each of us have our own gifts, our own special place of fitting into the body of Christ. Let's use and reuse those gifts today. Kim may not be winning any "Spring Cleaning" awards this season, but I know many, many rewards await her in heaven for her generous spirit and her kind heart.

What are your gifts? How are you involved in caring for the earth? For others?


  1. Good morning, Dina. I sure enjoyed reading this. Kim sounds absolutely amazing. I think it's great that she's always thinking of people and putting their needs first.

  2. GO KIM! Keep allocating!
    I love placing others unwanted things in the hands of someone who needs it or appreciates it.
    Blessings, andrea

  3. Hi, Suzie and Andrea, we actually had a last minute glitch this morning and realized we had no post. Since the subject was supposed to be "Reuse," Kim immediately popped in my mind. She's a fun lady and has been one of my closest friends for 13 years. I'll try to get her to stop by and say hi later on today.

  4. Super Dina to the rescue!! Thank you for stepping up to the plate. Great post and I really want to meet Kim.

    And is freecycle an online community? Or just a network she's created?

  5. Lisa, freecycle is an online community. Go to freecycle.org, and then look up your city or area.

    Kim actually loves to write, although she rarely finds time for it, so who knows. Maybe you will meet her someday.

    When I started writing my first novel, I did a little writers group with Kim and another friend Angela for a few months. It really helped to get me off on the right foot.

  6. Hi Dina and Kim! Hope Kim has time to stop by. Love that picture of the gal in the dumpster. Too funny.
    Great post, Dina.

  7. Thanks for stepping in today Dina! What a fun post, and I'll be thinking about it for a while. Hilarious pic of the dumpster diver.

  8. Dina! I knew you were a blessing but now I realize how truly wondrous you are.

    I absolutely loved the post. And that pic of the dumpster is precious. The next time I see someone with their head in one I'm not going to automatically think bag lady. Oh no. I'm gonna think Kim and all the good work she does.

    I still have a small tin from when my dad used to take us to the local dump to scour through the 'used' pile but then they put the gates up and now no one's allowed to take anything out.


    Anita Mae.

  9. Not only is it my dream to one day be a "dumpster diva" but to have a rear that looks like that!!! Unfortunately, God also blesses me with free Panera! Yikes! So many blessings & not enough "height" to compensate...oh well, Funny thing is "environmentalists" frustrate me
    and I've finally figured out why...I think the more radical ones put the earth before people. They are probably folks that agree w/ population control & abortion, yet they are zealous about saving an annoying bug or algae. Don't get me wrong, I'd drink coffee w/ them...and wash the plastic fork when done munching on the donated Panera cake...but I think this planet is sturdy enough to handle the folks God placed on it. All that to say, just try and make me throw away a good Solo cup that has three names written & crossed out w/ a Sharpie on it. Poor Dina has had to tell me a few times to back down w/ the "gift bags" I try to bless her with as she's leaving...No wonder she's not come round recently for a game of Scrabble...Oh...if you do join Freecycle.org beware of collection addiction! It took me 2 years to overcome...Blessings all, I'm glad I finally checked out Inkwell...
    Sidenote: I did not take any clothing/shoes out of the bin. I only collected the stuff that was not in the bin and was thoroughly soaked from the rain. I took it home & washed it all and donated it to the Crisis Pregnancy Center. I've since been told that those bins are not for shredded carpet so I'm collecting a new bag of stuff to make up for the ones I "rescued". :) Still not sure what the truth is on that though.

  10. Jill, Susanne, Anita, glad you all liked the picture.

    And Kim, I actually thought the lady's rear was approximately accurate. I'm just glad you didn't think it was too big. Ha ha ha.

  11. I have not been avoiding Kim and scrabble because of the free gift bags!!! I have turned a few down only because I hate clutter in my house. I still have a stack of stuff she gave away and my kids brought home as prizes from a fundraiser at church.

    We used to spend tons of time together when our kids were little, and then again when we both homeschooled. We aren't on the same schedule now, but I'd still swear I make it over there about once a week. Besides, I never ever beat her at scrabble unless she helps me or lets me cheat. She's the scrabble queen with scores in the 300-400s.

    Oh, and speaking of gift bags, Kim is also famous for making actual gift bags, baskets, etc... out of stuff she got for free. Those, I love.

  12. Hi Dina, thanks for filling in this morning. I think God had this planned all along. What better way to discuss reusing that to meet the VA Beach Queen of it?

    I do know about free-cycle, so I figured it was type of Craigs list - national/local.

    Thanks to Kim for stopping by and encouraging us. Having places to store stuff is half the battle. Well, I suppose it can be a 'battle' if you don't really have the place for it. Thank God you open your home in preparation to be ready to serve.

    If I wrote about "Re-use" it would have shown how cheap I am so, better to have one about Kim and her RICH spirit of giving!

  13. Deb, Kim would claim to be "cheap" as well, but I prefer the term "frugal."

  14. Dina, great post and thanks for pulling it together at the last minute :-) Kim, thanks for stopping by and I've enjoyed reading about how you bless people with your gifts :-)


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