Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Blessing of Hand-Me-Downs

I love it when someone calls me and says, "Hey, I was wondering. I'm cleaning out the closets and we've outgrown a bunch of clothes. What size is your child?" I have been the recipient of some pretty great stuff! One of my children has very narrow heels. Finding shoes that fit is an all day search. We go from store to store and often go home empty handed. A few years ago we got connected with a family that has a child about a year older with the same challenge. Voila! Prayers answered! We still shop for shoes but quite often after all we can do we'll get that magic phone call that some shoes have been outgrown. What has been soooooo surprising to me is that quite often the shoes still have tags on them! The family that passes the shoes on has some doting grandparents and this particular child is in no short supply. So much so that some things never even get worn before they are passed on.

I have never felt that clothing my children had to cost a lot of money. Each of my children gets a few brand new things each year. Mostly from grandparents. But I have never felt that my children were not well dressed when they are wearing the, "pass-a-longs". When we receive something it is usually in really good shape. I have gotten in to the habit of going over each item carefully. I'm pretty picky. There are a few guidelines that have helped keep the standard of quality high. The first thing I ask when I look at something is, "How is the color? Does it look tired?" The second thing I ask is, "Are there obvious stains?" Then follow the questions about buttons and zippers and holes. By following these guidelines my children are clean, neat, and relatively in style.

When it's time to pass things on to someone else I look over each item and ask the same questions. I want to be sure I am giving someone a quality item. If I wouldn't want to see my child dressed in it then I don't pass it on. Over the last few days I have been purging out the too small clothing. And I was truly amazed at something. My child was passed a cute little coat that has worn so well that now we're passing it along again. It was made by London Fog and the person who originally purchased the coat paid a pretty penny for it. It has gone through 2 kids that I know of and I'm sure at least 1 that I don't know (the original wearer). The color is still bright. The trim is in good shape. The fabric shows almost no sign of wear. I didn't know a child that needed that particular size so I passed it on to our local thrift store. I'm sure that little coat will be a great find for a cash strapped parent. And maybe they will feel a bit of encouragement that they were able to find a good quality item for a fabulous frugal price.

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