Beauty and the Budget · Community

All Things New: Part I (Toddler Shoes)

Written by Deanna, a current graduate wife

A few years back our small family crossed the Atlantic and found ourselves living in a tiny, cold and ugly old block of University owned flats and more broke than ever. In the lobby of our building, (right next to the small, usually broken elevator) was a large community bulletin board. Despite several threatening signs warning against it, tenants regularly left the things they no longer wanted or needed in piles against the wall just under this bulletin board. We saw toys, clothes, games, used magazines, computer monitors, office supplies, posters, TV’s, kitchen items, books and tons of other things there. It was common knowledge that anything left against this wall was free for the taking and we acquired several things from the wall ourselves (random plates and saucers, a white serving bowl, a pair of chairs, salad servers, a pasta spoon). Our lack of money kept me on the lookout for cheap (or free!) things I could use and so, I always entered the lobby with a bit of anticipation. You just never knew what you were going to find! My husband deemed it “The Wall of Hope”. The idea being that someone would put junk against the wall one day and hope it would be gone by the next. But I called it “The Wall of Hope” because I always hoped that something great would turn up like a piano or a sewing machine or a Gucci bag. (No such luck.)

My favorite acquisition from the Wall of Hope was this ratty old pair of toddler shoes. They were in pretty bad shape.
But I’m glad no one threw them out.

A quick trip through the washer and dryer and then a little fabric (from an old shirt) and two buttons later, they were pretty cute and the perfect shoes for my little girl to romp around in!

This was a very satisfying project for me and a good reminder of how, as a Christian, I believe God intends to make all things new. You, me, and even this earth (which I believe once was perfect and new but which we’ve all managed to abuse pretty badly.) Ahh, sweet redemption. I am honored to contribute to it, in any small way I can.

Anyhow, I like this kind of recycling. The old addage, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is so true. There have been numerous times that I have seen things in a dumpster and thought, “I bet someone else could have used that!” But off it goes to a land fill and someone else is left to spend money they don’t need to. What a waste!

In a world where every advertisement tells me I need more, bigger, better, faster, newer, my budget screams back “Impossible!” And so, I am left finding creative solutions with what I have. I am forced to look for the potential of things, to consider how I can improve them. (It is simply amazing what a good scrub or a coat of paint can do to an old (insert item here). I am challenged to be resourceful, quick to share with others, and grateful when others share with us. And to be honest, it’s good for me. I want those things to be true of my children. I want those things to be true of me.

One of the loveliest things about living among other poor graduate students is the way we share and pool resources. Most of my children’s clothes and toys were once worn and loved by someone else’s children. And, when mine are done with them, we will surely pass those that are in decent shape on to be worn or played with by someone else. It’s a beautiful thing really and I would guess a lot less likely to be found in the ‘real world’ beyond grad school.

Do you have any ‘trash to treasure’ stories to share? Take pictures and submit via email to us!