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Got too much stuff? Here’s a novel way to donate without ever leaving your house

Monika Wiela, founder of Give Back Box. Courtesy photo

If you’re like many folks at this time of year, you are faced with the chore of finding a place to put all your new clothes, toys and knickknacks.  You want to donate your old things to make room for the new ones, but perhaps you don’t have time to drive around dropping things off or perhaps you don’t drive at all.

A few years ago Chicago businesswoman Monika Wiela came up with a novel — and completely painless — idea for recycling used items. Pack them up in all those shipping boxes you have piled in the garage, slap a free label on them and ship them to Goodwill. And it costs you nothing.

Here’s how it works:

You take the cardboard boxes that all of your online orders were shipped to you in – or any large cardboard box at all – fill it with your donations and tape it shut. Visit the Give Back Box website and print a free shipping label. Drop the box off at the post office or UPS, or request a pick-up from your post office.

And that’s it. It really is that simple.

Wiela came up with the idea when she encountered a homeless man in Chicago in 2012 holding a sign saying that he needed shoes. She bought him some shoes and went back later to give them to him, but he was gone. Wiela, who owns a women’s shoe company, couldn’t stop thinking about the man and she came up with a plan. When she shipped shoes to her customers she included a prepaid shipping label and asked them to send back their old shoes or clothes when they received their new ones. These donations were passed on to charity.

Her simple idea grew over the years and she now has over two dozen companies who work with her to spread the word of the Give Back Box.

All donations are shipped to a nearby Goodwill organization and the money from sales of goods goes to programs for youth, veterans and military families, the disadvantaged and people with disabilities. There is no weight limit on donations but Give Back Box asks that you do not include any liquids, fragile, hazardous or volatile items, or ammunition in the boxes.

For more information or to print a free shipping label, visit the Give Back Box website.