Have a pile of clothes in the back of your closet that you’ve been meaning to donate? Has your desk drawer somehow turned into a museum of dusty and obsolete cell phones? Sometimes the best intentions to donate unused items to charity are halted simply because it is hard to actually find where to send them. Deciding to part with your once beloved objects should be the hard part, not finding somewhere to take them. Fortunately, the amount of people running into this problem has resulted in a wellspring of online resources to direct you and your things to the correct spots.
Clothing is probably the easiest thing to donate because of the multitude of drop-off centers. To locate a Goodwill or Salvation Army drop box, check out http://locator.goodwill.org and www.salvationarmyusa.org. Despite the availability of drop-off locations, some people just don’t have the time to get to one. If you’re not able to drop off your retired clothing, try an organization that will pick up for you. Vietnam Veterans of America and Purple Heart are two such organizations. Donated clothing is sold with the proceeds benefiting our veterans. Set up a time to have them stop by at www.clothingdonations.org or www.purpleheartpickup.org.
For many women, special occasion dresses may be the most expensive and infrequently used items they own. Don’t let your wedding dress or prom dress collect dust when it could make someone in need so happy. Wedding dresses donated to Brides Against Breast Cancer will help fund the wishes of breast cancer patients. To learn more, visit www.bridesagainstbreastcancer.org. Find a location to bring special occasion attire including prom and Bat Mitzvah dresses, at www.donatemydress.org/index.html for a state-by-state list of donation centers. Organizations like Dress for Success collect unwanted business attire (dresses, skirts, pantsuits, blazers, blouses and shoes) and use it to help women secure jobs and gain self-sufficiency. Locate a branch near you at www.dressforsuccess.org.
Is your attic or basement chockfull of old stuffed animals? Chances are you could use that space for much better things, so help yourself and a needy child by donating your lonely stuffed animals to Stuffed Animals for Emergencies. All the information you need to complete this process can be found at www.stuffedanimalsforemergencies.org. Many homeless shelters, police and fire departments and other human services groups also collect toys and stuffed animals and distribute them to children who are the victims of illness, domestic disturbances, fires, floods, etc. Check your phone book or search online for “social (or human) service agencies” to find groups near you.
If you are a runner or have growing children, then you are probably used to frequently replacing sneakers. Many people don’t realize that those old sneakers can be transformed into something amazing, like a tennis court or a playground, when donated to Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe program. To watch a video breakdown of what happens to each part of the old shoes and to find out about donating, head to www.nikereuseashoe.com. Shoes can also be donated to Soles4Souls (www.soles4souls.org), an organization that reuses rather than recycles shoes by getting them to people in need.
It can sometimes be hard to contain your excitement when a newer version of your favorite cell phone is released. You have two options when it comes to dealing with your old phone: Donating or recycling. Flipswap will sell or safely recycle your phone and even plant a tree for each device that is recycled through their service. You can print out a shipping label at www.greenphone.com. Cell Phones for Soldiers will also resell your old phone. They put the money toward calling cards that allow our troops to keep in touch with their families. Donation information can be found at www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com/donatePhone.html.
This list is by no means exhaustive of all the donation-worthy things in your home, so try heading to www.freecycle.org to figure out what to do with pretty much anything. This website aims to connect people who need things with the people who are giving them away, and has even been recommended by Oprah online.
Finally, one thing to keep in mind when donating is the potential for tax deduction. You will need a receipt with the value of the donated item for tax purposes, so make sure to collect one each time you donate and store it in a safe place for the future. Not all donation centers are approved for this process however; the IRS website lists approved organizations at www.irs.gov/charities/article/0,,id=96136,00.html.