Fat Tuesday is behind us. Lent looms before us. Instead of just giving up meat on Fridays for 40 days and indulging in fish fries, or--heaven forefend--foregoing chocolate, consider getting truly lean. 

Take the 40 days, 40 items challenge. Having spent the past 12 years in what might be termed "serial divestment," I love the concept. It's so simple.

Pull out an oversized trash bag. Each day of the 40 days of Lent (that's February 14 through March 29, by the way) take one article of clothing out of your closet or from a dresser drawer and put it in the bag. On Easter weekend, drop the bag off at an organization that provides goods and services to those in need.

Or go whole hog and ramp it up to 40 days, 40 bags. Instead of one item per day, spend ten minutes each day filling one plastic grocery bag with unnecessary items, things in good repair that you own but which you do not wear or use. 

I'm doing it. In fact, I may just double up and do two bags--one for items in the closet that I have not worn in a year and which give me no joy (or which I have "outgrown"), and a second bag for other cupboards and closets--extra cans of kidney beans, accumulated towels and washcloths, toiletries from random hotel stays.

My bags will go to Journey's End to help them help refugees recently arrived to start a new life in Buffalo after years spent in refugee camps. But you could choose to share your surplus with the homeless by donating to Friends of the Night People. There's St. Vincent DePaul (which may be the longest continously active charity in Western New York), Goodwill, of course--so many organizations that serve those in need. And unfortunately, so many in need.

Take the 40 days, 40 items/bags challenge. It's like giving up excess for Lent. And Lent is just a good excuse for doing this. By April Fools Day (Easter is on April 1st this year) you'll have gotten a leg up on spring cleaning (yes, spring will arrive eventually. It always does) and have shared your abundance with those in our community who are struggling just to get by. Win-Win.