Where to Donate Gently-Used Items After Decluttering
Did Marie Kondo's Netflix special leave you feeling inspired? Instead of overwhelming your local thrift store, spread the love and donate these in-demand items to a charity.
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Sure, you could drop off your old clothing at a thrift store, but we have another idea: sort out your business clothes and donate them to Dress for Success, a nonprofit that provides professional attire to low-income women. Your favorite blazer or pleated skirt will help someone else nail their next job interview.
Instead of feeling guilty about those never-been-worn shoes in the back of your closet, give them to Soles4Souls, a nonprofit based in Nashville. They distribute shoes to communities all around the world and even sort their donations by season, so your sandals will go to someone in a warm climate and boots to someone who lives in a colder region.
Wedding Dresses and Formal Wear
While there's nothing wrong with holding on to your wedding gown, we love the idea of gifting that special garment to someone else. To make a difference, you can donate your wedding dress to Brides Across America, where it will be given to a military or first responder bride for free. Alternatively, you can send it to The Brides Project, where it will help raise funds for families impacted by cancer. And if you have a piece of formal wear? Reach out to Operation Prom.
If you've recently changed prescriptions or started wearing contacts, you could pass your old eyeglasses onto someone who needs them. Look for a Lions Club International recycling center in your town or mail your pair to the group's headquarters. From there, volunteers will clean and repair the lenses before distributing them to someone who otherwise couldn't afford them.
As you're emptying your makeup bag, check the expiration date on your mascara; most brands only last a few months, so it could be time to get a replacement. But before you toss that tube in the trash, wash the wand in soapy water and send it to Wands for Wildlife. They'll use your mascara wand to treat baby animals and remove tiny bugs from their fur.
If you have a bedding set to spare, consider donating it to a homeless shelter. Although their policies vary, many shelters accept gently-used bed sheets, comforters and pillow cases, in addition to mattress covers, clothing and toiletries.
Blankets and Towels
Looking to do some good with your old blankets and towels? Try taking them to an animal shelter. Most locations will use these linens to soften kennels or dry off dogs that need a bath before they get adopted.
Whether you're moving out or simply upgrading to that sectional you've had your eye on, your old sofa probably still has a lot of life in it. Instead of posting an ad on Craigslist, put your furniture in the hands of Habitat for Humanity. By dropping off your sofa, chairs, side tables and other items at your local Habitat ReStore, you'll divert waste from landfills and help families in need build a foundation for their future.
Let's be honest: you definitely have a blender or toaster collecting dust in your cabinets. Wipe these small, still-working appliances down, round up their accessories or cords, and then, take the items to an organization like The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. Your donation will get a lot of use helping a family settle into their new home.
Food Storage Containers
On that note, your food storage containers can also help someone get a fresh start. Always ask about their policies prior to making a donation, but refugee resettlement programs and rehousing groups alike often accept small storage containers.
While it's tempting to take a stack of paperbacks to your local library, most branches have strict rules about adding titles to their collections. So we suggest finding a Free Little Library in your community, sending them to Operation Paperback for troops to enjoy oversees or even donating them to Books for Prisoners.
Toys and Stuffed Animals
If you have a surplus of toys and stuffed animals in your home, consider taking them to your local police station or fire department, or collecting them for Stuffed Animals for Emergencies. These groups will then turn around and use the toys to comfort children in traumatic situations.
Bicycles and Helmets
It's a lot easier to say goodbye to your old bike when you know that it's going to a child in your community. While there are countless programs like this across the country, a few of our favorites include Kids on Bikes in Colorado Springs, Colo., Back Alley Bikes in Detroit, Mich., and Recycle Bikes for Kids in Little Rock, Ark.
Cell Phones and Computers
Prevent your old cell phones and computers from sitting in storage, and donate them to organizations like Secure the Call and World Computer Exchange. The former collects used cell phones, wipes them clean and then gives them to senior citizens and domestic violence survivors who need a way to contact 911, while the latter repurposes your device as an educational tool in developing countries.
Why stack suitcases in your closet when they could serve children in your community? If you have extra bags at home, donate them to a group like Luggage of Love. They'll gift your gear to children who are in foster care or experiencing homelessness and need something to help carry their clothes.