What Counts

20150930_142251 (1)Niecy Nash, when she was hosting Clean House (2003-2010), used to say, “When your hand is open to give it is open to receive.”

Earlier this month, I rescued a ton of materials from a Louisville business that spent 55 years producing paper and report covers for law offices and court reporters (among other things). When they were faced with re-homing their remaining stock or throwing it away, they sought ways and places to donate it.

The owners invited me to take as many materials as I could haul away, so I drove to and from their warehouse seven times, filling the back of my van each time, until my back tires cried, “Uncle!” The Oldham County Schools Arts Center very generously provided me with space where I could pile what I’d collected. Trip after trip, I took pallet-loads of boxes from the warehouse to my van, from my van onto a rolling cart, then a ride in an elevator and into a storage space, then off the cart, counted, recorded and photographed, before heading back to my van to do it all again. Eventually, I decided to cut out the extra step of trying to store everything until I had a request for it, and reached out to educators, nonprofits, libraries, and artists, offering to deliver anything they could put to good use.

Two weeks later, here’s where things have been re-homed.

  • 500 report covers went to the Kentucky PTA, to use when providing materials for PTA leaders throughout the state
  • 300 report covers went to the Phoenix School of Discovering, a middle and high school in Jefferson County that offers differentiated instruction for struggling students
  • 100 report covers, 4 reams of paper, and a variety of rubber stamps went to teachers at Oldham County Preschool, our county’s Head Start program
  • 200 report covers went to an Oldham County Exceptional Child Services teacher for the visually impaired
  • 100 report covers went to the theater teacher at Goshen Elementary
  • 700 report covers went to teachers at South Oldham Middle School
  • two boxes of note cards and envelopes went to a middle school literacy coach who is establishing a pen pal program between her students and students in Kenya
  • 600 report covers and 10 reams of paper went to the art teacher and after school program at Harmony Elementary
  • 40 cardboard boxes and a large roll of packing material went to the art teacher at La Grange Elementary
  • 200 report covers went to New Hope Services, providing services to children with special needs, adults with disabilities or disadvantages, families and senior adults throughout southern Indiana

And I’m nowhere close to being out of materials to share.

When I worked as a fundraiser (what seems like a lifetime ago), I was quick to point out, “Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts” (Albert Einstein). But numbers like these – for materials that were both diverted from the landfill and put into hands that educate and care for others – that is what gets me out of bed in the morning.