Hoarders to Help: A Journey of Friendship

By: Sandy Churchill


“I say this with all the love in the world,” confided my dear friend Kerry to me recently. “Don’t buy another pencil!”

A fellow homeschooler, my friend understood my frenzied life-style enough to “get” my obsession with school supplies—but also point out that part of our organizational chaos at home is leading to overstocks of some items simply because we cannot locate them when we need them. I loved that she prefaced her critique with her kind opening “all the love in the world” because she understood my lately-hormonal, super-sensitive disposition that might feel hurt or overwhelmed by her comment. She understood I was doing my best not to float away amid craft and office supplies but was clueless how to tackle it all and do a thorough attic-to-basement re-start.

Confession: if there are degrees of hoarders, our family just might be lingering in the doorway. Not full-blown-stacked-boxes-in-the-halls-and-blocked-off-doorways or filthy-not-taking-out-the-trash, for sure, but clutter! We are a crazy-busy, definitely motivated family who have a lot of interests and jobs and volunteer commitments, added to social endeavors, a penchant for frequent get-togethers with family and friends, and little time to sort through the muck and mire to organize everything in a better way. Several of us are teachers. Most of us are writers. Most of us are artists to some degree—meaning that paint, oil pastels, charcoal, chalk, canvas, Sharpies, kneadable erasers, and art lesson plans float room to room as we work on projects, dabble in varying media, and envision teachable projects for students of all ages.


A peak at the household: all of us are volunteers. All of us are game enthusiasts. Add to that campers, homeschoolers, plus varying degrees of piano lessons, CCD, karate, cosplay events, and hosting parties and game nights week to week. And all these “involvements” have requisite “stuff” to make them happen. Case–in-point: our nicknamed “newly-organized craft closet” (as a means, by the way, to distinguish it from the long-ago-once-upon-a-time-organized original closet) had not been organized for two years and I could barely separate glue from glitter, brad fasteners from thumbtacks, masking tape from duct tape, and so on.

Enter superheroes Paula and Mandy! A well-meaning team of sister-in-law and friend who are heaped with organizational vision and talents we do not have! My daughter Brittany is the only one of the five of us who enjoys organizational puttering and none of us have the skills or vision or interest in spending our limited time this way because we lack efficiency and success in all things orderly. These dear friend/family members have shared their time and talent in helping us sort through craft supplies, kitchen gadgets, four-score of coffee mugs and travel cups, fabric closets, and webs of yarn projects to help us organize, label, donate, trash, and otherwise “restart” the living space so we can be productive and happy. Now THAT’s a gift that lasts long after summer’s rays have given way to the cool days of fall!

These generous souls helped restore hope to our closets and shelves—and more importantly, to us as teachers, crafters, students, workers, and volunteers. I feel so much gratitude for this gift of time and talent from these two lovely ladies, who have given of themselves.

We joke that our home is a judgement-free zone even though we are certain our chaos is cause for all sorts of ribbing at our expense. But truly, as we own our “overwhelmedness” and embrace our shortcomings in this area, we opened our hearts (and home) to the hope of others’ strengths and talents. And the best part? All these newly organized shelves and closets have restored clarity and hope to each of us as we embrace a new school year!

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