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MT
You see them every time you open the closet: clothes you have owned since high school but haven't worn since college, shoes that felt comfortable in the store but ended up giving you blisters on their first (and last) trip to the city, hats that were very fashionable a couple of years ago, but look a bit strange now even though they have a famous label. A good rule of thumb is: Clothes you haven't worn in three years are unlikely ever to get out of the closet again.

A walk through your kids' room might also reveal a wealth of toys, movies, games and books that they have outgrown, in addition to extra clothes.

Be honest with yourself -- you will never use these things again, and they are only taking up space in your closet. It's time for a spring cleaning.

If you've cleaned out your closets and ended up with an ever-growing pile of bags taking up space on your floor or under your bed, but don't really want to throw them away, donating your old clothes to charity can be both a noble deed and a decluttering measure.

The same can be said for old furniture. You don't need to be a follower of feng shui to be sick of looking at that same old harsh green armchair in the corner or the clunky old-fashioned furniture you inherited from your parents or neighbor. Even if clearing out the space doesn't invite some good karma to your place, it will certainly clear up space for nicer things.

Although there is no convenient drop-off point for Goodwill or the Salvation Army and no culture of garage sales in Russia, there are still plenty of organizations that will accept your items. Some of them will even arrange a pickup for larger donations.

While some local charities work only in Moscow, many carry out projects further afield. The Sophia Charity Foundation, for example, supports a project for former convicts and homeless people in the Voronezh region, about 250 miles south of Moscow. The project, organized by an

Igor Tabakov / MT
Charities working with the homeless are always happy for gently-used clothing.
Orthodox priest named Alexei Ostrik, involves the rehabilitation of those who are willing to change their lifestyle so that they may re-enter the work force.

"What they need the most is men's shoes. There is also a lack of jackets, hats, jeans, socks, sport pants and underwear. We don't expect new things -- just without holes and spots," says Olga Glukhova, the head of the foundation.

She says the foundation is currently involved in the repair and furnishing of two retirement homes in the town of Drezna, in the Moscow region.

There is a need for bookshelves, chairs, tables, coffee tables, sofas, stands for TV sets, as well as ceiling lights and floor lamps.

"We need about 25 chairs. If someone is able to bring any item to us in his car, that's perfect, but we can also discuss the possibility of coming and picking it up," she said.

Some of your clothing and toys might find a new home with poor families in the Chelaybinsk region, says Yevgenia Poplavskaya, the head of the Order of Mercy and Social Care. The foundation has worked in different regions of Russia for the past five years and has received hundreds of letters of gratitude along with many requests for help.

Where You Can Donate



International Women's Club

What to donate: Almost anything as long as the things are clean and in good working condition. Larger items can be donated by appointment.

How it works: Most things are dropped off, but a pick-up can be arranged.

Where to find it: 3 Gruzinsky Pereulok, Entrance 1, Apt. 1A (ground floor), M. Belorusskaya.

Tel. 8-916-410-1366 during office hours only. Donations are accepted on Mondays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; e-mail: iwcdo@yahoo.com

Church of Sts. Kosma and Damian

What to donate: shoes and clothing (especially men's shoes).

How it works: The church collects things for refugees and the poor. The season should be taken into account because of the lack of storage space. Bring your donations every Wednesday and Friday from 12 to 5 p.m. To donate for refugees, call first.

Where to find it: 2 Stoleshnikov Pereulok, (on the corner with Tverskaya Ulitsa), M. Pushkinskaya or Okhotny Ryad.

Tel. 629-4104; e-mail: mail@damian.ru

Order of Mercy and Social Care

What to donate: shoes and clothing, dishes, toys and children's books.

How it works: The organization sends packages to poor families in the regions. Books for contribution should be in Russian. They accept donations every day from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Where to find it: 6B Ulitsa Pestelya. The closest metro is Otradnoye, but it is better to go by car since it is quite far from the metro.

Tel. 402-14-27; e-mail: ordenmiloserdie@mail.ru

Sophia Charity Foundation

What to donate: men's and children's shoes and clothing, beddings, furniture (by appointment only).

How it works: daily 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the collection point. Clothing donations for the Voronezh project every Tuesday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Where to find it: 21 Yartsevskaya Ulitsa, M. Molodyozhnaya, Tsentr Obuv store (the guards at the store accept the donations).

Tel. 8 (499) 140-03-04; www.sofiafond.ru