The COVID-19 stay-at-home orders haven't proven all bad.
Many Region residents, like Chesterton teacher Laura Alonzo, have used their time at home to clean out and sort items they can no longer use and want to donate.
The biggest question for Alonzo and others these days is finding a location to drop off their donations because some charitable organizations have closed temporarily due to safety precautions.
"I've been cleaning a little bit, and I've been keeping the items in the back of my car," Alonzo said.
Alonzo, a Valparaiso resident, was able to donate the items, including kitchen objects and clothing, to Alley Kat's Curiosity Shoppe, 1515 Roosevelt Road in Valparaiso.
"I'm glad I could support her store and get rid of some things," Alonzo said.
Kat Lutze, owner of Alley Kat's, set up the drop-off for donations of all kinds from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Wednesday and Saturday.
The only exceptions are upholstered furniture and large entertainment systems.
"Unfortunately many donation centers are currently closed to the public, but we are opening up our warehouse so your spring cleaning donations can be put to good use," Lutze said.
All the donations will be used to support the artists and curators at her shop, which includes the sale of furniture, vintage and farmhouse decor, toys and collectibles, she said.
Lutze also offers live virtual events during the week, through her shop's Facebook account, starting at 6 p.m. every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
"The easy thing is to just shut down, but 40 small businesses are located in our shop, and we have a responsibility to them. These are real people in the community so we are attempting to keep this place relevant. This donation program is a way to give back," she said.
"Anything that we can't directly use will be packed up or donated to a local charity that will benefit from those items."
Because her shop, which is closed to the public, is only staffed by Lutze and her sister, Elena Lutze, she asks that drops-offs include gently used items placed in bags or boxes so they can be sorted out efficiently.
Furniture should be in usable condition.
"If you have furniture or appliances that you cannot remove yourself, please give us a call and we may be able to arrange a local pickup," Lutze said.
For more information, call 219-252-2386 or go to facebook.com/alleykatcuriosityshoppe.
Lutze said she is working with Affordable Appliances and Parts, 1708 E. Lincolnway, Valparaiso, in regard to the drop-off of washers, dryers, refrigerators, microwaves and dishwashers.
Matt McCann, owner of Affordable Appliances and Parts, said he will happily take donations — delivered to his store — of old appliances, some of which can be refurbished.
McCann said he can possibly even offer a small amount of cash for the old appliances, including about $15 per item.
"What we mainly do here is refurbish and sell appliances. About 20 percent can't be fixed," McCann said.
Hours for drop-offs are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and by appointment only on Saturdays.
For more information, call 219-465-6483.
Helping those in need
St. Jude House, a family violence prevention center and shelter based at 12490 Marshall St., Crown Point, has updated its essential needs list, according to its director of development, Buffy Adams.
Because of COVID-19, donors will be safely isolated in the St. Jude House vestibule area when dropping off donations. Donations drop-offs can be made from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Donation receipts will be mailed to donors, Adams said.
Household items that can be donated include disinfectant spray, food service gloves, hand soap, toilet paper, paper towels, face masks, laundry detergent, Amazon gift cards and trash bags. Pantry needs include juice, potato chips, children's cereals, pudding, Jello cups, macaroni and cheese, sugar and hot sauce. Children's needs include cold/flu medicine for children younger than 2, diaper rash cream, diapers sizes 5 and 6, and pull-ups, all sizes.
For more information, contact Adams at 219-769-0968 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Salvation Army in Northwest Indiana has suspended its pickup services of items due to COVID-19, but it still accepts donations of clothing, furniture and household goods at several drop-off sites, including those in Merrillville, Hebron, Hobart, Valparaiso, East Chicago and South Holland.
For more information, call 800-728-7825 or go to satruck.org for the latest information on which local drop-offs remain open.
The TradeWinds, 3198 E. 83rd Place, Hobart, has its main center closed because of the coronavirus, but several items are needed at group homes.
Items that are in need are Lysol spray, paper towels, shampoo, body wash, soft soaps, bleach or Lysol wipes, dish soap, Pine-Sol, 409 Cleaner, large garbage bags, napkins and tissues.
For more information, call 219-945-3116.
Goodwill Industries of Michiana, which includes 12 outlet stores in Lake and Porter counties alone, has closed the majority of its stores. But it does have drop-off sites, including those in Portage, Crown Point, Merrillville, St. John, Hobart, Gary, Dyer and Griffith.
Call 574-472-7300 for more information or go to locator.Goodwill.org to find out which donation sites remain open.