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        All bagged up and nowhere to go: NYers cleaning out homes during coronavirus crisis can’t donate old clothes, goods

        Bags of household items at Courtney Stewart's house that can't be donated right now.
        Bags of household items at Courtney Stewart's house that can't be donated right now.(Courtesy photo)

        A week after the statewide coronavirus quarantine went into effect, Courtney Stewart and her parents went into full-on cleaning mode.

        They dove into the closets of their Jamaica, Queens, home and stripped them of every unwanted item. Out went the old blouses, coats, gloves, dresses, snow boots and scarves — garments they had wanted to get rid of for months but never found the time to sort through.

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        They filled nine heavy-duty bags full of perfectly good items that they had hoped to give away. But when 26-year-old Stewart started calling around to see who could take the clothing, nothing was open.

        “All of the companies (I called) were closed,” said Stewart, who dialed a number of local second-hand stores. “It’s a lot to ask people to come out and pick these things up. We understand it would put people at risk (of coronavirus) to come out to our home. I just hope maybe there’s somewhere that’s still accepting donations.”

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        Courtney Stewart
        Courtney Stewart(Courtesy photo)

        “We never had the time to get our house in order — now we have so much time on our hands,” she added. “We want people to have these things, and we want to keep cleaning — but it’s hard because we have to make (more) room, and we don’t know where to put everything.”

        Stewart is one of many cooped-up New Yorkers who have spent their time in isolation organizing their homes. But with few places open for donations due to the pandemic, the heaps of unwanted clothes and other household goods are piling up.

        Companies like Housing Works — which has over a dozen thrift stores citywide — has paused all of their donations. The Salvation Army has also suspended its donation pickup service.

        One alternative comes from Goodwill NYNJ. Spokesman Jose Medellin said people looking to donate clothes in New York and New Jersey can request bags with prepaid postage by emailing the organization’s donation department. Brown Harris Stevens real estate firm has also partnered local moving companies to do free curbside pickups in Manhattan and drop the donations off at Goodwill NYNJ.

        Yet those who want to toss televisions, cables, computers and other electronics that are illegal to put with the rest of the trash are temporarily out of luck. The city’s ecycleNYC program has been suspended, said Sanitation Department spokeswoman Belinda Mager. The agency’s appointment-based curbside e-waste collection program has also been eliminated due to budget cuts.

        David Huerta, 35, of Park Slope, said he’s spent a good deal of time mining through old electronics that he’ll have to hold onto for the time being.

        David Huerta
        David Huerta(Courtesy photo)

        “We have a ridiculous amount of really old cables and things that go to old devices that we’re just keeping for now,” he said of the nearly-obsolete HDMI, USB and PC cords he found in the home office that he shares with three roommates.

        Huerta also has a number of other miscellaneous items he’d like to see out of their apartment, including a George Foreman grill, a Korean BBQ, a large box of light bulbs and four large bags of green and beige bedding.

        “I have no idea what to do with all of this stuff,” he said. “I would love to get rid of it, but I don’t want to throw it away ... I guess we’re stuck with it for now.”

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