This is a guest post from our reader, Bethany.
A lot of baby, kid, and maternity items get shared among the families at our church. However, our church has a few worship services and it occurred to me one day that people from one service may have what someone from another service needs, but they’d never meet. So, two and a half years ago I started a blog dedicated to swapping baby or kid stuff and maternity clothes among people at our church. After about six months I opened it up to anything, not just kid or maternity things.
Although I run the site for a church, it would work for any group of people who would like to save money on things they need for their family. If this sounds like something you’d like to start, then let me share a few of the guidelines I have in place.
:: Specify who the site is for. In my case, it’s the church I attend. For you, it may be employees from a particular company, families in your subdivision, etc.
:: State that the site is only for the free exchange of items and that items being sold, offers to pay for an item, and offers or requests for services or other non-tangible items will not be allowed.
:: Do not include explanations as to why requests are being made.
:: Instruct readers to only take items unless they know they’ll be using within the next 6 months. It’s not a place to stockpile or to find things to sell, but a place where people can find things to meet the needs they have right now.
:: Don’t allow requests that are for causes (donations for the homeless, items for fundraising garage sales, etc).
Now for the nitty gritty of how it works. If someone has a request or offer, then they e-mail that info to me. I title every post with offer, wanted, or wanted to borrow, followed with the name of the item or a general description of the things in their list and give all pertinent info in the body of the post. Here are a couple examples.
WANTED: CRIB BEDDING
Contact: janedoe @ e-mail . com
Details: I’m looking for crib sheets and a bumper pad.
OFFER: GIRLS CLOTHING & HOUSEHOLD ITEMS
Contact: janedoe @ e-mail . com
- size 7 girls dress shoes
- three pairs of girls 4T shorts
- queen mattress and box spring
People are responsible for letting me know when they have given away what they offered or received what they were requesting and I update the post accordingly, either by marking specific items in as list as ** CLAIMED ** or ** RECEIVED ** or deleting the post entirely.
As some people forget to let me know their post needs to be updated, I send out an e-mail every two months to all those who have posts at least two months old to make sure their posts are still valid. If they are, the posts stay up. If not, then I update or delete them. Additionally, about 18 months ago I started a Facebook page where I link each post. The Facebook page is not for conversation, but simply to make the posts more accessible to people who are on Facebook, but who don’t read blogs.
It’s been awesome to hear from people who are grateful to receive a free item they truly needed, happy to be able to meet someone else’s need out of their own excess, or excited to find random things they love that are just the fluff of life. If you’d like to facilitate those types of exchanges among a group you’re part of, then I’d be happy to help in any way I can as you get your own site started.
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