All Donations are NOT Created Equal


This is a portion of the donations we received in one day at our house for pickup by families in need.  One day – how awesome is that!

My beloved city and state have been through so much.  We have watched our friends and families walking through chest deep flood water and cried with complete strangers as our hearts broke into a million pieces over and over again.  It has been so hard, but I have seen another side of this, too.  Insurmountable hurts have faded or melted away all together.  People have softened toward each other.  I recognize that reality will seep back in as time goes on, but the beauty I have seen over the past week will remain precious and treasured in my heart forever.

Most people in Houston area homes that were spared have taken in flood evacuees until a better long-term housing solution can be determined.  Countless shelters have been set up, and they have more donations and volunteers than they could ever use.  People race to places as a need is announced, and most of us have been turned away because there’s too much help.  It’s an awesome problem.

On a much smaller scale, several neighbors and I began collecting and sorting goods for area families who weren’t comfortable going to a shelter but still needed replacement clothing and bedding, etc.  They come by the house and pick up whatever they need for themselves and / or their friends and families.  Whenever people have asked me what kinds of donations would be best to help victims of the flood, I have repeatedly said, “Please think about the critical essentials you would want if you were stranded somewhere with your children for several days.”  The donations have poured in, and the tremendous generosity has left me awestruck.  Out of the darkness has emerged a stunning light of humanity that is impossible to articulate.

However something else has emerged out of the darkness as well…


I’m sorry, but did you just donate a doll that crawled out of your TV while you watched “The Ring” a few years ago?

I recognize that people are giving these items without compensation and that they are free to the recipients.  I genuinely appreciate that countless families have taken time to look through their closets and toy baskets with the hope of sharing what they have with someone facing a horrific reality.

But those who lost their homes and belongings have enough wreckage to sift through.  They don’t need someone else’s garbage, too.


When I was going through the donated foods, I initially thought that this was a bottle of BBQ sauce.   It wasn’t.

Let’s talk about food.  If it isn’t safe for you to consume, maybe we don’t give it to others either?  I can promise you that I have unintentionally donated expired food in the past as well, but this is beyond the pale.  Based on my beloved spice rack (you know the one!), I would bet that I have unintentionally fed some out of date foods to my family, too.  Sorry kids, but hey – at least now we will have the answer when we wonder why we get botulism someday!  Before you give food, please check expiration dates.

And then there’s clothing.


This is my favorite donation box of all time.  Epic stuff right here.  Please note that this gem was with tons of other boxes of clothes.  It just happened to be a box that ended up with underwear.  I need to believe that this was a universal joke that only I would notice and not a warning by the person who packed it.

While this particular box did not match the description it seemed to indicate, we received too many sketchy undies.  That’s okay.  NEVER.

Underwear can be very hard to find in shelters because people often dislike donating them.  I get it.  Seriously.  I.  Get.  It.  While some people will make trips to the stores, most people won’t go out and buy new underwear for donation.  Consequently, shelters often accept gently used, good quality underwear.  Translation – No one wants your ratty, dirty, holey, broken elastic, formerly white panties.  No one.  NEVER EVER.  And I’m not even going to talk about the fact that some people gave serious lingerie.  The point is to try to help people get back on their feet – not off them.IMG_20170901_204443

And then you have socks.  There is always an endless need for socks.  However those old things that your heel and big toe peek through aren’t socks.  Those are rags you should use to clean your mirrors, or better yet, line your trash can (on the inside of a bag that will disappear sometime within the week).  In addition, the fluffy soft socks are fun, but when I say that people need essentials, your pajama party socks should not be in greater abundance than the normal day-to-day socks.  People can’t go to work in these.  They can’t clean their homes  while wearing these.  They need real socks.

We received the shoes below today.  Fabulous???  You bet your sassy butt they are!  Essentials?  Not so much.  With that said, I should note that whomever gets these shoes might also want to inquire about the lingerie mentioned above.


A blue morph suit was received at the high school shelter this week.  The example pic is below in case you aren’t a weirdo and don’t know what that is.  Allow me to stop you before you see the photo and say, “But Joanna – every flood victim could use a blue morph suit.”  I hear you and normally I would 110% agree.  But that’s only true when we are talking about a GREEN morph suit.  No one in their right mind would wear the blue one.  That’s so last year’s flood attire.

morph suit

I promise it’s true.  A friend found a blue morph suit this week at our local shelter.  My greatest sadness is that she didn’t put the damn thing on and take a pic for me.

I would also like to give a shout out to all of the following attire donation choices:

  • Full length wool winters coats – These are always a must have in Texas in August as well as every single month of the year.  It’s important that our legs don’t get cold while we wear our shorts at Christmas.
  • Shirts with stained pits AND holes – Why have one when you can have both!?!?
  • Ugly Christmas sweaters – Thank you.  Just thank you.  Again, we all need this, and more than any other time, we need it in August in Texas.
  • Unbearably hideous clothing that is so bad that the tags never left them and never will – I don’t mean a little ugly.  I mean so intentionally ugly that we can tell that you hate your kid or were trying to win a contest (and clearly won).
  • Heavy winter scarves, thick winter hats, and ski gear – 85 degree Christmas will never have to feel cold ever again (when it rolls around months down the road).
  • Full bag of clothes than may have been covering parts of a decaying body – The bag o’ smell you dropped off was super fab and amazing!  I wanted to throw it away, but my trash can locked its lid tight and would not allow it.  I loved watching another volunteer drive away with the bag on the hood of her car because we were worried that the smell would melt the seats if it came inside her vehicle.
  • One shoe / one sock – We have had very few peg leg pirates picking up donations this week.  They all had boats, so they were fine.  No need to send more of those.

Moving on to housewares…

IMG_20170901_204432This could be my fault.  When I said essentials, I did not include the Texas dictionary definition, so maybe it’s a regional slang thang.  In Texas, essentials are usually taken to mean “stuff people actually need.”  I recognize that some states may view broken flamingo napkin rings and matching corn cob holders as imperative items, but to my knowledge, they aren’t on the list here.  Full disclosure – I may be giving someone something really cool of mine in exchange for these flamingos because I can’t effing believe that they exist.  It’s like I found a family of unicorns in the pile, and I just can’t set them free.  They are so funny, and I truly pray that one of my friends donated these and reads this post.  If so, tell me please and know that I will be showing up at your house weekly while eating corn in style.

A few more notable items that have been received include:

  • Wet pillows – Wow.  That’s EXACTLY how I would have wanted them, but I was uncomfortable asking people to be sure and moisten their pillows before bringing them.  Thank you for taking the initiative on behalf of others.
  • Clocks – Because why bring a watch when you can bring a whole clock.  If I had a dollar for the number of times I had been fleeing my home and wished that I had grabbed a clock instead of a watch…  (I would have NO DOLLARS.)  (Also I recognize that the thought may have been that someone might have wanted some decor items for their home, but these are not critical must have items on week one post flood.)
  • A deflated inner tube – So this would have been great with air during the actual flood.  Maybe a deflated inner tube is less useful today???  Clearly you didn’t grab your crap bag from the garage and bring it for donation.
  • Toiletries and cleaning supply bottles with one more squirt or spray – I, too, hate it when I mix up my donations and my recycling.  Of course that explains why you dropped off a whole box of these with the word DONATION hand-written on the side.  (Being used is not the issue.  Being garbage is the issue.)
  • Threadbare towels rife with holes and large patches of dried flaking mud – The crunchy ones with large areas of dried paint, chemicals, and animal ??? on them are fab, too.
  • Pregnancy test – Please be sure to request this in conjunction with your shoes (above) and lingerie (above above).

Please think before you donate.  Please be considerate of the people who will be sorting and distributing these, and much more importantly, be considerate of the people who will be receiving them.  Recognize what is helpful and what isn’t.  Share your valuables.  Don’t purge useless items when essentials are in need.

At the end of the day, 99% of the donations are wonderful.  And as for the people who give them, sort them, and distribute them?  Well, the shirt below pretty much sums up my sentiments about all of you.


Please note – this is AWESOME and I am keeping it.  I will be exchanging this for another shirt out of my own closet, so the donation balance shall be maintained.  To whomever donated this —> I love you.

To the volunteers and those giving actual donations – I love you, I am thankful for you, and I truly appreciate everything that you do for others and for our communities.

Love, light, laughter, and incrediballs – Joanna  😉

***My husband is not happy about my writing this post because he is not down with shaming or being critical of others on social media.  Normally I am absolutely in agreement with him, but I strongly disagree on this topic.  It is truly bad behavior to pass off your junk to another.  Given the anonymous nature of donations, we can’t discuss it with the offenders directly.  I would mention it to them if I could, but I don’t know who left this stuff.  All I know is that my trash can runneth over with other people’s garbage that was initially flagged as donations.  It’s inconsiderate, and it isn’t kind.  Please think about what you give when you give.  Generosity from the heart is a true blessing.  Thank you for your consideration, love, and support for those in need.  Also thanks for keeping your skanky used lingerie out of our donation bags.  You can so keep that all for you!


***Side note – Several people have been sending me pics of ridiculous donations that they have received since I originally posted this entry.   The  photo below was too fantastic not to highlight.  Rarely can one obtain unique art and tetanus simultaneously.  I don’t know why it’s so hard to find decor comprised of old, rusty barbed wire and hand cut sharp metal in stores nowadays, but it is so thank you donator for this rare gem!  I have requested that my friend please send the follow up photo of the dirty old band-aid that I’m certain she will find in the same shredded bag of goodies that contained this southwestern wonder.



42 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. MichaelStephenWills
    Sep 02, 2017 @ 04:49:27

    I appreciate your touch of humor and ridiculous with the nightmare.


    • MoJo
      Sep 04, 2017 @ 09:12:54

      You have to laugh sometimes, and you definitely have to laugh at this. I had gone inside for a few minutes and came back out to find a big pair of ratty leopard panties hanging on my husband’s car. The entire garage full of volunteers was rolling. You have to find humor or the other will take you down. And speaking frankly, some of it is damn funny. 😂


  2. Jan
    Sep 02, 2017 @ 04:51:33

    Tell your husband it’s OK. Your readers know you and know the real love, hurt, concern, and generosity you and your family and neighbors are giving tirelessly. I understand, my husband has his opinions, too, bless him. Most of the time I love that he keeps me in bounds. : )
    What a touching post. Would that we read more of what angels like you are doing. It makes my heart warm just to know you, Jo. Also, what we all need at truly difficult times is a chance to laugh and know that all is NOT lost when we can laugh at ourselves. Love, admiration, and blessings to you and your mission. jan


    • MoJo
      Sep 04, 2017 @ 09:16:20

      I don’t think that he is worried about my readers. I think that he is worried that one of our neighbors gave that stuff and that I will offend them. However if it’s a friend of mine, they KNOW that I would tease them about it (and I really hope that it is on these items). And if it isn’t and you deliberately donated this garbage, you still earning a good ribbing on this. Not the underwear though. Donating gross underwear is incredibly unacceptable, and it is not kind at all. Put that garbage where it belongs!


  3. Writer Lori
    Sep 02, 2017 @ 05:02:16

    Dear Lord, Jo, I never thought I would roar with laughter over a story about donations to those in need, but by golly you’ve done it! I’m not sure which tickled me more, the ‘Frederick’s of Hollywood’ attire or the flamingo corn cob holders. You really, really ought to send this post to HuffPost. Bless your enormous heart, honey… We sent money to the Houston ASPCA in hopes of helping a few furry friends as well. Xoxo, l


    • MoJo
      Sep 04, 2017 @ 09:19:14

      I wouldn’t know how to do that even if I wanted to send it to them! But I will tell you this – I was crying laughing when I was taking the photos. I looked insane just laughing like crazy all by myself, but I couldn’t help it. Ridiculous.


  4. wakinguponthewrongsideof50
    Sep 02, 2017 @ 05:54:54

    I know your husband isnt it favor, but you are so spot on! I don’t like to shame people either, but there is no sense sometimes! When I helped with the sandy stuff here a few years ago, the organization heads actually started to say “no physical donations please except water” because you do start to get bizarre stuff, and it’s hard to keep track af what you do and don’t have. We sent money to Houston food bank because that seemed logical to us, and a Houston animal shelter, but I don’t remember which cause my husband did it through work- matching funds. But I deviate and am back to telling you how wonderful I am, again…… the undies box…..and the blue suit….and the way you present the story, as always!!xo


    • MoJo
      Sep 04, 2017 @ 09:21:00

      Thank goodness you liked them because I have been racking my brain trying to figure out what to give you for Christmas! 😂😂😂. Also I love that you donated to animal causes, too. So many people forget about this and there are literally thousands needing care now.


  5. overthehillontheyellowbrickroad
    Sep 02, 2017 @ 07:18:03

    I loved this post!!!!! You actually found a way to make me laugh in a time of crisis. More importantly, the information you wrote about was so informative. As an outsider, when I donate, I feel a bit helpless. I never feel certain the newly purchased items I’m sending are actually reaching those who need them. When supplies arrive in shelters, how are they distributed? How do individuals get what they need? I’ll continue to donate in a more informed way based on your post, and I’ll definitely refrain from sending plastic flamingos. LOL


    • MoJo
      Sep 04, 2017 @ 09:23:52

      I’m going to really really honest with you, I didn’t think about what I donated the same way before this happened. Always the same on the underwear! But not so much on everything else. It really opened my eyes, and oh my heavens it has made me laugh, too. It annoys me, but you have to choose the more fun response if you can.


  6. roseelaineblog
    Sep 02, 2017 @ 08:49:07

    I understand what you are saying, yes one should be thankful for donations received but there is a line! People should think before donating anything …. 🌹
    P.S. those shoes 🙄


  7. carolrolke
    Sep 02, 2017 @ 09:18:46

    I love the honesty of this post. I don’t see it as shaming as much as it is just common sense advice. Those who don’t have it need a little direction. 🙂 Thank you for helping your neighbors in time of need. Prayers and love to you all.


  8. elbycloud
    Sep 02, 2017 @ 10:48:40

    I have several bones to pick with you.
    A. I have snorted so many times reading this I am going to have to go inside for a box of tissues. I was very comfy out here in my nice dry yard so thanks for that (but at least I know what do do with the tissues when I’m done with them)
    B) I was supposed to be writing this morning, not reading other people’s funnier posts
    C) The pumps and prego test obviously go with the incrediballs shirt. And I need all now (important “function” to attend)
    In all seriousness, I would like to help with my meager cash donation. Can you recommend an alternative to the Red Cross? If it’s a recognized charity my company will match.


    • MoJo
      Sep 04, 2017 @ 09:28:10

      A) I know. These things made me cry, too, but I didn’t bother with the tissues since I was already dropping with sweat.
      B) I want to read the posts you have written along with the others because I feel like I have been living under a rock. A wet sweaty rock with ratty panties as her companion.
      C) People keep asking me and I need to get a good answer. And I agree. NOT THE RED CROSS. We saw first hand what happened here.


  9. Paige
    Sep 02, 2017 @ 21:16:15

    I love this! I sorted donations after Katrina and was amazed by what some people thought would be useful! Someone donated a shoe box filled with a very old pillow, a ladies slip, a pair of heels, and a refilled bottle of water.


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  11. mainepaperpusher
    Sep 02, 2017 @ 23:02:01

    Horrifyingly comedic. How you have made a very serious topic into a post that made me smile, I have no idea, but you did it! I think the stilettos helped, too. I know you think they are totally useless but consider this. When wearing that pair of shoes you can go through five inches of water and your heels will not get wet! Dry heels can’t be underrated. Seriously, it is very heartwarming to see your area, your state, and the whole country come together.


    • MoJo
      Sep 02, 2017 @ 23:36:30

      Oh Lord woman that was hysterical! I so can’t respond to these now but I saw this and about cried at your comment! You are a nut and I love it!!!


  12. shalini
    Sep 03, 2017 @ 03:49:22

    Fabulous post. I loved it. Was rolling in laughter


  13. Kip Walkin
    Sep 04, 2017 @ 18:26:50

    No doubt I’ve missed you Jo. Those shoes (spikes maybe)😁😁😁😁. Honest and funny post. Your witnessing the situation first hand makes it really deep. I have spoken with family and friends out there, and it’s really a horrific situation. It’s good to know your sense of humour is intact. Our prayers are with you and your family. Keep the faith!🌷🌺


  14. Tracy
    Sep 05, 2017 @ 01:52:45

    I like you Jo. Like me, you have the ability to find the humour in the most difficult of situations. What a FANTASTIC post. X


    • MoJo
      Sep 05, 2017 @ 07:25:34

      That’s the time when we need it most!! Plus these were impossible to not find hysterical!


      • Tracy
        Sep 05, 2017 @ 12:51:35

        I read the post snorting into my coffee, then I had to keep reminding myself of the seriousness. Then I’d look at that doll again LOL X

      • MoJo
        Sep 05, 2017 @ 13:08:55

        The doll… It’s so incredibly terrible but I think I will have it forever. I was in tears photographing it because it was so unbelievably funny. It’s a nightmare yet it’s awesome. W. T. F?!?!?!

      • Tracy
        Sep 05, 2017 @ 13:12:07

        It’s just like harvest festival at school when people send in all their out of date shit. I’m surprised they don’t have a trawl through the bin and have done with it lol

      • MoJo
        Sep 05, 2017 @ 13:19:26

        You know that you HAVE to take pics of that crapola and send it to me when that happens this year. Must see this. 😂

  15. James J. Cudney IV
    Sep 05, 2017 @ 15:43:17

    Your approach and attitude totally makes up for any potential risk. Good job with everything here. Very honored to know you.


  16. misifusa
    Sep 08, 2017 @ 08:21:32

    I love how you are the keeper of the donations and well as the giver. I love your honesty and your humor. I am glad you are doing ok. Miss you xo


  17. manyofus1980
    Sep 17, 2017 @ 17:00:19

    Oh. My. God. Thats what I say to all this. People are weird, some are at least, lol. Glad you did get some good donations though. xxx


  18. DH
    Feb 04, 2018 @ 03:59:23

    Do you see any way to stop all this? The fact that you need to tell people not to send expired food or clothing they don’t want is not a good start.


    • MoJo
      Feb 12, 2018 @ 18:23:32

      The really embarrassing truth is that I didn’t realize how clueless my own donation approach was before I went through that experience. I hope that I wasn’t that bad, but I wonder how often I didn’t think about giving mismatched socks or partial toys. I hate typing those words because I should have known better yet I didn’t. But the good news is this – now that I am aware of the importance of paying attention to the obvious, I am much more cognizant of what I do and don’t donate. Rule of thumb – if I think it’s junk, it is. If I think it’s good quality and helpful / useful / wearable, I gladly donate it. Sometimes we just need someone to point out the obvious. 🙂 There’s always hope. And if hope doesn’t work, at least we will have hoochie shoes, terrifying dolls, and brown ketchup to keep us giggling at the wackiness of the other humans around us. 😉


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