MOORHEAD — Like a lot of us throughout the year, Cindy Graffeo of Moorhead ends up putting items her family has outgrown, or no longer uses, in the garage or basement, with a plan for spring.
“We typically end up with three piles: things headed to the curb for Cleanup Week, things we hope to donate and things we hope to pass along to friends and family,” she said.
But, like it has done with so many things, COVID threw a wrench into Graffeo’s plans. Cleanup Week was postponed from spring to fall, then eventually cancelled altogether out of health and safety concerns for Moorhead city workers.
Graffeo says she was disappointed, but completely understands.
“Sacrificing the convenience of curb pick-up is a very small price to pay to keep our Public Works employees safe and healthy,” Graffeo said.
But what are Moorhead residents supposed to do with their unwanted items now?
The city is providing expanded hours for trash drop-off at the Moorhead Transfer Station. And now some Facebook groups are also stepping up to fill the void.
Mara Morken is the administrator for Moorhead=Fantastic, a page which Morken describes like “neighbors talking over the fence” providing advice, guidance and encouragement for each other about questions or concerns in their city. The group, which normally doesn’t focus on posts of people buying, selling or donating items on the page, has made an exception just for Cleanup Week, allowing members to post photos and information about items they would have normally put on the curb.
“This year we decided to allow people to post their stuff because sometimes people can't get it to the transfer station themselves. Maybe they don't have a big enough vehicle or maybe they're not physically able to load that piece into a car,” Morken said. “And also, because we don't want to think of that many things that are still useful going into the landfill.”
Graffeo loved the idea for the items she wanted to give away.
“I thought it was great,” she said. “It’s always amazing when community members come together and get creative to solve problems.”
She says after posting her items, most of them were snapped up the first day and the rest found new homes in the following few days. Graffeo says her cat-loving daughter was thrilled that the portable crib she used to sleep in was going to a woman who wanted it to foster cats.
“That’s exactly what you hope for when you donate anything — that it makes a positive impact in our community for a single person, a family, or in this case a litter of kittens,” she said.
Graffeo says it's especially rewarding because they had wanted to donate a lot of their baby items to charity. But they found many of the charities were still modifying their donation practices, and the items weren’t being accepted.
Moorhead=Fantastic isn’t the only Facebook group offering up their space as a virtual curb. Other Facebook groups, where you can post photos of items you’d like to dispose of, include FM Garden Freecycle, Moorhead Free Stuff and Buy Nothing Moorhead (South), MN.
Morken says she’s glad so many groups on Facebook are picking up and running with the idea of social media Cleanup Week. She says she knows people were upset when the city cancelled Cleanup Week, but when you look at the logistics of three or four guys working closely to haul off your junk, it makes sense to play it safe and come up with a new solution.
“One case of COVID could shut down our entire department, and then all of a sudden, it's not just, you know, couches and lamps that we're worried about. We can't get our garbage picked up then,” she said.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I find these groups on Facebook?
You can search for “Cleanup Week”, but here are the links to some of them:
Moorhead=Fantastic - ideas, dreams and solution seeking for Moorhead. A positive space to share Moorhead-related content
FM Garden Recycle - This is a free give and get group relating to garden items only.
Moorhead Free Stuff - a Facebook Swap and Shop group dedicated to helping Moorhead find, locate, and get rid of items. ONLY free items are acceptable.
Buy Nothing Moorhead (South) MN - Offering members a way to give and receive, share, lend, and express gratitude through a worldwide network of micro-local gift economies.
Neighborhood associations - Many neighborhoods have their own pages or groups on Facebook. Check to see if your neighborhood has one for an easy, close-to-home solution for getting rid of items.
What are the rules for posting on these Facebook sites?
Every Facebook group set up to help with Cleanup Week giveaways will have different rules. On some pages you will be required to join the group to post or comment. Peruse each site to see what works best for you.
Do I need to be a Moorhead resident to post an item or ask for a donated item?
These Facebook groups and pages differ on whether you need to live in Moorhead. Some sites accept members who grew up in Moorhead, work in Moorhead or just have interest in the content. Check the rules of each site.
Can I still put my items on the curb and post on Facebook that they’ll be there?
Morken says they encourage people to comment or direct message the person who posted the item to make arrangements for pickup. She says some people are posting that they just put out an item on their berm and give their address, but Morken says she’s not sure the city would encourage that.
What if I see an item I’d like to have, but I don’t have the physical ability to pick it up?
In some cases, the person donating the item might be willing to bring it to you. Morken says they have had some people post on Moorhead=Fantastic, and in some neighborhood pages, that they will volunteer to transport items from one person to another or perhaps loan out their trailer or pickup. Special consideration might be given for those in quarantine or the elderly.
How long will these sites be allowing Cleanup Week posts?
Again, every site will be different, but Morken says with Moorhead=Fantastic, threads like this will just "organically" die off. If you're serious about donating or finding an item, it's best to be active on these sites in the next month or so.
What if I’m not on Facebook?
Remember, the city of Moorhead is still allowing expanded hours for trash drop-offs of items at the transfer station. They wrote this message for more information:
“We are #MoorheadProud to see neighbors and block clubs organizing pick-up and delivery of large trash items on behalf of family and friends that cannot physically drop off items due to disability, age, or lack of an appropriate vehicle. Continuation of this good neighbor practice is appreciated and encouraged.
For more information, or to request a special pick-up in October, please contact the Sanitation Division, 218.299.5465
Now through September 11 - Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:15 p.m.
September 14 through October 2 - Monday through Friday, 9 am - 7 pm
Saturdays - September 19 and 26, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
What is going on in Fargo, West Fargo and Dilworth for Clean-up Week?
Clean-up week is going on as scheduled in those communities. For more information call your city or check their website