I’m on a journey to live a simple life; to live with a little less, and live a little better. After methodically de-cluttering my entire house, I have quite a bit I need to donate. About the same time I was ready to load up and head to the Goodwill Donation Center, The United Way Campaign started up where I work, and they always encourage folks to support local charities. So this got me thinking about ways I could donate my stuff in a more direct way. I love Goodwill and the Salvation army; they do really great things, but the sales from their retail stores is a very tiny part of their budgets. I’d like to “keep it local” this time around. As I was researching this, I realized that a lot of communities probably have similar programs. I’m posting what I’ve found near me, and hopefully others can use this as a starting point to find ways to give locally.
Books and Movies – Many senior services such as retirement homes, nursing homes, and adult day care centers welcome donations of books and movies for their clients. The assisted living center I visited told me that puzzles and magazines are very popular as well. Operationpaperback.org is also an excellent choice; they send books to our troops overseas.
Art and Craft Supplies – Check with your daycare, your kid’s teachers, after-school programs at the YMCA, etc. Many will accept these supplies, and put them to good use.
Professional clothing – Job assistance organizations help people, often women, gain employment, through training, help with skills, and even providing professional work clothes. So this is a perfect place for professional women to help others by donating clothing. Dressforsuccess.org and careergear.org are good resources for these type of donations if you are not able to find a local organization.
Prom Dresses and formal wear. The princessproject.org is a good place to start. However, our local high schools actually have a prom shop, which includes dresses, shoes, makeup, jewelry, you name it. Qualifying teenagers get to shop for their formals, and enjoy makeovers and other perks donated by local businesses.
Household goods – Halfway houses often have a great need for household items. There are many types of halfway houses; those for mental illness, for survivors of domestic abuse, for recently released inmates, for those recovering from drug addiction. Most offer shelter, job assistance, and help with basic needs. Where I live, an organization called East Main Place provides shelter in fully furnished apartments, which even include dishes, pots and pans, towels, bed linens, etc. When the tenant moves out, they are allowed to take all that was in the apartment. So donations of furniture, linens, and kitchen wares are routinely needed, and happily accepted.
Another option for household goods is housing for emancipated minors. This was new to me, but the local high schools also own apartments for emancipated minors, or those who have no other place to live. Like the halfway houses, they are constantly in need of household goods. To round out these services, the school system also has a food bank, a clothing closet, and a daycare for at risk kids who are trying their best to stay in school. So check with the school system in your town and see if they offer similar programs.
The last option for household goods, as well as tools, paint, rugs, appliances, cabinetry, or anything else that comes from a house is the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Our local ReStore is just blocks from my house, so it’s very handy. Supplies received are either sold, or used in the houses built by Habitat, which are always in the local community.
Eye glasses – Take your old glasses to your local Lion’s Club. Recycling glasses has been a project of the Lions for over 70 years. Their website is saving-sight.org.
Coats – Every year, usually in November, Burlington Coat Factory accepts gently used coats which are then donated to local families. If there isn’t a Burlington near you, try onewarmcoat.org or your local clothing closet. Gloves, Hats, and mittens are also needed.
Of course, if you prefer to keep it simple, Salvation Army or Goodwill is still a great option, and a one-stop drop for anything that’s still serviceable. So, donate, it’s a good thing!