Some people make New Year's resolutions. I long for a fresh start each January 1st. The week between Christmas Day and New Year's Day is a nice, quiet time to clear out one year before starting the next. Pay bills, clear off the desk, file, sort, clean out drawers, cupboards and closets. For me, these tasks are more important than resolutions. They pave the way for a fresh, new year. 

During this flurry of activity I inevitably find things I do not need. Some sweaters that I haven't worn in years, slacks that (unfortunately) no longer fit, a few pairs of shoes that I just don't like. The kitchen cupboards produce duplicate canned goods and too many unopened boxes of crackers and cereal. I discover hand lotion I have not used, shampoo I didn't mean to buy, extra toothbrushes accumulated during visits to the dentist, tiny toiletries from brief hotel stays.

The obvious next step is to share this excess abundance with those in our community who are struggling just to get by. Here are five of my favorite ways to extend the season of giving and start the New Year a wee bit lighter and brighter:

Pack up a few bags of non-perishable cans and boxes of healthy foods and donate them to the Food Bank of WNY, 91 Holt Street.

Share gently used clothing, small appliances, toiletries and some furniture with those arriving in Buffalo from refugee camps from around the world. Journey's End receives donations at the Central Park United Methodist Church at 216 Beard Avenue and uses them to help our New Americans start their lives anew in Buffalo.

Friends of Night People at 394 Hudson Street serves the poor, homeless and destitute. Warm clothing, toiletries, and canned goods are always welcome, especially during the frigid winter months.

The Buffalo City Mission serves more than 600 meals a day at its facility at 100 E. Tupper. This requires 12,000 cans of tuna, chicken, vegetables and beans each month. The hungry who eat there also lack soap, shampoo, deoderant and diapers, as well as pajamas, underwear and t-shirts.

The Harvest House of South Buffalo at 1782 Seneca Street is the largest provider of free children's clothing and other items in the Buffalo area, serving more than 5,800 children every year. New or gently-used children's clothing sizes Newborn -14 is always needed, especially boys clothing sized 5 to 14, newborn outfits, onesies and sleepers, socks, car seats, cribs, and strollers.

What are your favorite ways to start the New Year?

May 2018 be peaceful, prosperous and clutter-free for you and yours, enhanced by generosity and a deep sense of community.