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Ready to Donate Your Stuff? Here’s Where to Take It

Woman holding a box full of clothes marked donate
Black Salmon/Shutterstock

Marie Kondo might have inspired you to clean your home, but what should you do with all the stuff that doesn’t spark joy in your life? When it comes to donating things, it helps to know where to take it (and why).

Stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army are fine for donating used goods, but even there, some of the good stuff doesn’t make it onto the shelves. Plus, the more well-known thrift stores are becoming overstocked with donated items.

Instead of risking your items ending up in a landfill instead of on the shelves earning money to help your community, consider these other places for donating your gently used stuff.

The Library

Marie Kondo suggested, on her Netflix show, that people keep only around 30 books in their homes at one time. If you’re letting go of books, consider donating them to your local library.

Your donated books likely won’t make it to the library shelves; they buy books bound explicitly for that purpose. Instead, many libraries have used book sections where they sell them, or they may have a used book sale once a year. The money they make from the sales goes toward funding the library.

Locally-Owned Thrift Stores

Locally-owned thrift stores and resale shops often get passed over when it comes to donations. Consider taking your gently-used items to one of these stores instead. You can easily search for “thrift stores near me” online to find places close by.

These thrift stores are often run by churches, health centers, veterinary clinics, and other businesses that benefit from the money the stores make. At many of these places, you can still get a donation slip to use for a tax break.

Directly to the People and Places in Need

Shelter for stray dogs
David Tadevosian/Shutterstock

There are some items you might not even think to donate which could still do some good.

For example, used mattresses often can’t be resold, but you could consider donating old mattresses and comforters to a local animal shelter. These discards offer a comfortable place for dogs to sleep while they’re waiting for forever homes. Animal shelters often also run thrift stores of their own, so that might be another option where you live.

Donate overstocked toiletries and gently used clothing and shoes to local homeless shelters. Watch for local disasters, like house fires, and find out where to donate items to help those suffering the loss of their home and belongings.

Food Drives and Pantries

When you find yourself overstocked on food, don’t toss it out. Canned goods have pretty long shelf lives, and just because you no longer like beef stew from a can doesn’t mean it couldn’t feed someone else.

Many churches take food donations, especially when they are shelf-stable items. You may also want to contact local soup kitchens to find out if they can use your pantry overstock. Once a year (the second Saturday in May) the United States Postal Service does a food drive. Your postal carrier will pick up your food donations when they deliver the mail.

Just Give It Away

If you’re getting rid of stuff and not worried about tax write-offs or making money, check with friends or look to social media to find people who may want to take your discards off your hands.

Freecycle is a great organization that allows you to sign up for a free account and find people who need what you’re giving away.

A Few Things to Consider Before You Donate

Before you donate that bag of clothes or that box of food, consider these tips:

  • Only donate items that are still in usable, unbroken condition.
  • Don’t donate clothing that is stained or ripped (look into places that take donations to make rags if you have an abundance of this type of clothing).
  • Don’t donate mattresses from a home with bed bugs. If you need to dispose of an infested mattress, it needs to be done correctly.
  • Make sure movies play, and puzzles include all of the pieces. It’s pretty disappointing to buy something used, only to find out it’s missing what it needs to be useful.
Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow is a professional writer with two decades of experience. She has written and edited for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and more. Yvonne is a published poet and short story writer, and she is a life coach. Read Full Bio »
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