Facebook group leads Atlanta families to free gifts, decor, and food for holidays

Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 5:33 PM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Before spending hundreds of dollars on gifts, décor, and food for the holiday season, some families in the Atlanta metro area say you can probably find exactly what you want without spending a dime.

The Atlanta-based Facebook group “Gift It Forward” connects people who have extra items to those searching for free goods. About 1,500 people use the page to find clothing, organization supplies, household items, and holiday gifts.

Katherine Weitzman created the group several years ago. She expects traffic in the group will grow over the next several weeks.

“Here we are in this time of inflation and holiday season,” said Weitzman. “I can’t put a number on it, but I know it leaves money in families’ pocketbooks.”

Weitzman started Gift It Forward to cut down on landfill waste. She sees successful exchanges in the group every day, though the gift-giving picks up around the holidays.

“Last year, we had a lot of people who had brand-new toys in their packaging and put them out there on the site,” she explained. “Some lucky members would find things for their kids.”

While most items come from neighbors, some come indirectly from retailers themselves.

Tazia Allen, a moderator for the Facebook group, has found thousands of dollars worth of food, décor, and other household items in dumpsters at retailers across metro Atlanta.

“Other than the food, it’s furniture, houseware, I find baby clothes, brand-new clothing, shoes, boots – everything!” said Allen.

Allen looks through dumpsters from Johns Creek to East Point every week. Impressive hauls include hundreds of dollars of high-quality meat from a well-known grocer and a mirrored cabinet outside a popular retailer she estimates is worth about $500.

Most of Allen’s discoveries are in perfectly good condition, although some require a basic cleaning. In some cases, store management has given Allen extra items they were planning on throwing away.

“There can be overstock,” explained Allen. “Some of the stores throw out a couple of weeks ahead of time to make room for holiday specials, so they just throw it away. They don’t donate.”

While all of us find comfort in counting our savings, the women who make it happen say our bargains are their blessings.

“If God put it in front of me, it’s not to make a profit. It’s to help,” explained Allen. “I would rather it go back to the community than go to the landfill.”