The Giving Closet

In the town building where I work, there’s a room upstairs called The Giving Closet, jammed with the town’s cast-offs and free for the taking. Clothing, dishes, puzzles, books (from self-help to Isabelle Wilkinson’s brand-new Caste that I snapped up.

The space is infinitely fascinating — who gives, who gives what, and who takes. The wealthy who donate boxes of never-worn clothes. A widow who wept when she dropped off her husband’s suits. Those who leave handmade quilts or winter boots, to empty their house, but also hope that someone else might use these things. One woman handed over a pair of child’s boots, saying, But there’s so much use left in these…

The takers (mostly women) form an unending stream. In an unintentional way, The Giving Closet bucks capitalism. Need a coffee pot? A packet of seeds? A child’s snowsuit? This is the place.

It’s a place without policies, cobbled together, that moves along the uniquely local story of humanity — a solid plan.

By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.


  1. I participated in a weekly Free Store in South Royalton (which will be weekly during the farmer’s market on Thursdays). These free stores are a treasure.

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