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Shop And Swap!

I organized a neighborhood shop and swap
recently as part of my living a life of impact thing, and I have to
tell you, it was amazingly fun and astoundingly successful.

I emailed all the mommies in the various mom’s groups in my
neighborhood – and my community has several; our close-knit
groups are one of the things I love about my area. I told all the
moms I was organizing a morning to trade baby clothing and toys,
picked a date, and we were off!

The rules were simple: bring even one thing to give away, and you
could take home as much as you needed. Clothes had to be in good
condition, and toys needed all their parts. And everything was to
be free- no cash could change hands. Otherwise, there were no
rules. I heard lots of moms say it sounded like a good idea, but I
really had no idea if we’d have two people show up or

To add to the enticement, I planned some
morning goodies: coffee, juice, donuts, home-baked muffins. I laid
out the food in the room with all the toys, hoping moms could come
and hang and chat while their kids played with all the donated
toys. I used our area’s clubhouse, and went in the night
before to set up.

I have to say, the whole thing was a blast, starting with set-up. I
loved spending an hour with my girlfriends, sorting through clothes
and prepping pots of coffee. We had a chance to do the chatting
women do best: conversations had over chores, while our hands were
busy but our tongues were busier. I seem to do my best catching up
with friends while engaged in some mindless work, like stuffing
wedding envelopes or washing dishes. And since set-up was at night,
all our kiddos were home with the hubbies, so the space was
blissfully quiet. Beers may or may not have been present.

When we opened in the morning I was worried no one would show, but
by 9 a.m. the place was packed. I saw women gasping as they saw the
strollers and pack ‘n plays and Graco infant car seats being
given away, and I couldn’t blame them. The clubhouse looked
like a resale shop, and all the toddlers were busy test-driving all
the “new” toys. Moms quickly got to work in the
girls’ or boys’ clothing rooms, hands flying as they
caught up with friends.

Some women went home with only a few items, but many left with
several bags of clothing and toys, and I can’t tell you how
glad that made my heart. Here we were, sharing with each other,
making sure there was plenty to go around! People were calling
friends, asking sizes and scouting out on their behalves, or
grabbing newborn items for that neighbor who was out of work and
“surprised” by a new baby. And best of all, even the
leftovers didn’t get wasted: I had everything taken to our
local homeless shelter, where all the baby toys and clothes will
help yet another family get started in the next chapter of their

The morning was such a success that we’ve decided to make it
a regular thing, and do it twice a year. Our next round will be in
August, as everyone gears up for school and tries to dress the kids
who shot up during the summer. I’m already looking forward to

I had lots of great moments during the morning, not the least of
which was hanging with my best friend the whole time and chatting
in between wrangling kids and helping out other women. But I think
the point that summed it all up was seeing a woman walk out the
door beaming, with a toddler girl under one arm and several bags of
clothing under another. And as she left, she grinned and threw over
her shoulder, “I’ll bring this all back next year for
someone else!”

And that pretty much summed it up.

Get out there girls, and do this in your area. Call five friends,
and have them each call one more friend. Pass things around, pass
them on, see your friends’ child in that favorite dress of
yours from last season that your girlie just can’t fit into
any more.

Shop and swap – it’s the ultimate in reduce, reuse,
recycle. Good for the planet, good for the pocketbook.


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