Around this time of year, millions of Americans are clearing out space in their homes to make room for holiday gifts they’re giving and receiving. Don’t know what to do with the stuff you don’t want anymore? We’ve rounded up seven ideas for donating your belongings to charitable organizations.
1. Warm Up Someone’s Winter.
Are old coats taking up space in your closets? Check out OneWarmCoat.org, which lists coat drives taking place all over the U.S. Visit onewarmcoat.org/donate/donate-a-coat to find a drive happening near you.
Nearly 4 million coats have been collected and distributed through One Warm Coat campaigns since 1992. Coats “are easy for you to find in your home, and they are exactly what this charity is searching for,” professional organizer Jamie Novak said.
2. Support the Needy.
You’re tired of staring at that old sofa, but you dread hauling it to a local charity. Several nonprofit groups, such as Goodwill Industries and the Salvation Army, will come to your home to pick up furniture that you’d like to get rid of.
Visit the Goodwill website or the Salvation Army website to arrange for a furniture pickup. Goodwill helps people find jobs, while the Salvation Army helps an array of people, such as those who are homeless or have been affected by disasters.
The pickups can be scheduled online, and you often can leave your items outside so you don’t need to be home at the pickup time, professional organizer Seana Turner said.
3. Help Dogs and Cats.
“If you’re a pet lover, donate your old bedding and towels to your local rescue group or animal shelter. They’ll love you for it,” professional organizer Suzanne Willett said.
To find an animal rescue group or animal shelter in your area, visit the Dog Lover’s Digest website.
4. Assist Abused Women.
“If you’re active in women’s rights, a local women’s shelter would love unused toiletries, bedding and furniture,” Willett said.
To locate a women’s shelter near you, visit WomensShelters.org.
5. Help Sea Creatures.
Organizations like the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach, FL, accept donations of bath towels, antibacterial dish soap, plastic bags, paper towels, ladders, wheelchairs and other items. The center cares for sea turtles.
For a list of U.S. nonprofit groups that help marine creatures, visit MarineBio.org.
6. Give the Vets a Hand.
In 11 states, drivers for Vietnam Veterans of America will pick up an assortment of donated items, such as clothing, books, small appliances, bikes and toys.
To schedule a pickup by Vietnam Veterans of America, visit pickupplease.org/donation-program.
7. Feed the Hungry.
Various groups conduct food drives around the holidays. If you’re looking to clean out your cupboard, consider giving nonperishable food to your local food bank.
To find a food bank in your area, visit the Feeding America website.
No matter which nonprofit you choose, here are three tips for donating your unwanted items.
Make a Clean Sweep.
“I always encourage families to do a sweep of the house before Christmas to gather items for donation. Not only does it clear space in your own house, but it gives children a chance to feel like they are truly giving,” Turner said.
Think Before You Give.
Just because you can donate your old clothes or household goods to charities like Goodwill and the Salvation Army doesn’t you should. Before boxing or bagging up those items, consider whether they’re actually worth something.
“If they are broken, worn-out, unsalable or unusable, you are actually setting the cause back by dumping them on a charity,” fundraising consultant Michael Montgomery said. “You’re setting the cause back because, like other businesses, charities must pay for trash service in most communities.”
Keep Track of What You Donate.
“Before you drop off or have items picked up, put together a list of what you are donating. Note whether the item is of ‘high’ or ‘low’ value, as most tax deduction forms provide estimates for these two categories,” Turner said.