ACROSS AMERICA — To give you an idea of what’s behind this installment of Block Talk, think of the announcement Goodwill Industries had to make early on in the pandemic: Stop filling our donation boxes with your junk.
What? People discovered that Goodwill didn’t want them deluging the nonprofit with stuff they didn’t want. So did these people suddenly decide that if charities wouldn’t take it, they’d unload it on their neighbors instead? It’s possible, given some of the responses we got on Facebook to the second question for our every-other-week Block Talk column, where readers offer advice on navigating neighborhood problems. We asked:
“You take it and if you don’t need it, pass it on to someone who could use it,” a Brick, New Jersey, Patch reader wrote. “Giving you things may bring great joy to someone who may not have family, or is just trying to do a good deed, and it may be the one thing that brings them happiness.”
“No need to make someone feel bad about trying to help,” a Tinley Park, Illinois, Patch reader wrote. “You can always pay it forward.”
A Wheaton, Illinois, Patch reader accepts the food offerings from the “sweet old lady” across the street, but then tosses them in the garbage.
“She’s recovering from cancer, and it makes her happy to give her home cooked food to the neighbors,” the reader wrote. “I buy her new [storage containers] and include a gift card. It’s the thought that counts, and I don’t want to hurt her feelings when it brings such joy to her.”
“I was raised that you accept it,” a Lake Elsinore, California, Patch reader wrote. “If I’m given something they obviously thought of me because maybe they thought I could use it. If I have no use for it, I donate it or toss it.”
A Levittown, Pennsylvania, Patch reader’s similar advice was kind, but subtly made a point: “I would say, ‘that is really nice of you to think of me; however, I really don’t have any room for more. I would be happy to drop it at a donation site for you.’ “
But why tiptoe around it? “Normalize saying no,” a Newport, Rhode Island, reader advised. Kindly thank the person, but stand firm. “It’s really not a big deal,” the person wrote. “If someone gets offended, that’s on them, not you.”
For sure, according to a Joliet, Illinois, Patch reader.
“God gave you a mouth; just say ‘no thank you,’ ” she wrote. “If I am offering, I ask first!”
An Enfield, Connecticut, Patch reader wrote that “honesty is the best policy.”
“Why pander to someone and take something you don’t want to spare their feelings?” the person wrote. “You are signaling to them that you welcome the behavior, which is only going to perpetuate it.”