I had a request recently from a reader who wondered where she could donate items after she has done her spring cleaning. It's a great question and I can think of a variety of places off the top of my head that would be willing to take things like furniture, clothing and household goods. All support nonprofit groups in the metro-east. I suggest you call first and see if they are taking items. Some take donations only on specific days.
I know there are many others in the metro-east, but here are the ones I could think of that are located in Belleville:
Community Kindness Shoppe, 222-9890
The Shelter Shop, 234-4704
The TOCO Shop, 257-8626
Green Diamond Emporium, 451-8089
Salvation Army, 233-7617
It's time to start thinking about warm weather apparel. Peace by Piece in downtown Belleville will hold a spring Before + Again trunk show Thursday (10 a.m.-8 p.m.), Friday (10-6) and Feb. 23 (10-4). This line of women's shirts, tunics and dresses is full of light and color -- and a variety of sizes. Come see the styles and designs, try them on, then order in your size.
The Sole Survivor School of Leatherwork Education will hold an open house from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday at the leather goods and shoe store at 25 E. Main St. in downtown Belleville. It will be a chance to learn about classes, meet instructor/co-owner Steve Rye and check out the tools and supplies. Steve will be glad to explain and answer questions about courses in leatherwork he will be teaching, beginning in March. They range from making your own fashion clutch and cuff to historical and re-enactment projects. Call 234-0214 for more information.
St. Louis Cardinals fans will rock some great merchandise at little prices by going to Five Below Zero in Fairview Heights. Cardinals logo red back sacks are just $5, as are big oval 3-D magnets for the car. For a kid's bedroom, the $5 red collapsible storage bin is cool, along with the mini basketball hoop and ball.
I spied only one, but the pale blue/gray wooden "Happy Spring" plaque dotted with moss and tiny blue eggs said it all. The price was right, too: $6.99. Another one like it reads "Welcome." Look for them at Marshall's in Fairview Heights. Also, $2.99 felt cut-out shamrock-border placemates. I saw six.
I have yet to warm up to neighboring Ross Dress for Less; just not enough merchandise (unlike Marshall's). Still, I did find a nice bargain in the $13.99 set of 20 pieces of bamboo silverware (four place settings of five). The stainless steel set comes in its own caddy. It would look very nice on an Easter table.
At nearby Old Navy for women: Very cute floral boat shoes for $24.95, plus canvas trench coats (mid-thigh length) in tan or navy for $34.95 in sizes up to XXL. For guys: Cotton-polyester blend raglan-sleeve sweatshirts in about six colors for $22.94. Much dressier looking than a regular sweatshirt. Plus, flip-flops for everybody: $5.
Fan of "The Big Bang Theory"? Barnes & Noble in Fairview Heights has Wacky Wobbler Bobblehead dolls of four of the five main characters: Penny, Sheldon, Raj and Leonard. All the Howard dolls were gone. Each is $12.95. Or, there was a single mini set of the five dolls (including Howard) for $19.95.
A big thank-you to my friend Melanie for turning me on to a great way to carry your own low-fat/low-cal salad dressing without making a leaky mess in your purse or lunch tote: a 2-ounce silicone container with a snap lid that's $3.99 at Bed, Bath & Beyond in Fairview Heights. The container is soft, so you can squeeze it to get just about every drop out. Look for the containers in the main aisle in a bin at the front of the store.
Don't miss the always popular Friends of the Library book sale at the Fairview Heights Library. Preview night ($5) is 6-9 p.m. Thursday. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and to 2 p.m. Feb. 23, when you can fill a bag for just $4. The library is located at 10017 Bunkum Road.