Spring cleaning isn’t just a time to de-clutter, refresh, and revive our personal spaces—it’s also an opportunity for us to give back and give generously. Rather than just tossing your unneeded items to the curb (or worse, in your storage!), there could be a second life for that sweater that’s been hanging in your closet for over a year, the toy your child outgrew, or that gift you never could find a use for.
While Goodwill and The Salvation Army are usually convenient options for donating a wide array of goods, they both have restrictions on what kinds of items they accept. Thankfully, there are many similar organizations that specialize in collecting and distributing specific types of donations to the people and places where your goods can do the most good. Just remember that items should be in working condition, contain all of their pieces and parts, and be free of stains and rips.
Everyday Clothing and Shoes
Planet Aid is a non-profit organization “that collects and recycles used clothing and shoes to protect the environment and support sustainable development in impoverished communities around the world." Rather than dumping clothing and shoes that other organizations may deem unsellable into landfills to decay, Planet Aid distributes items that will find new life with a new owner overseas. Why, you may ask? Because the demand for used clothing is intense in developing countries. Mothers in Guatemala, for instance, are able to make a living from selling used clothing from Planet Aid.
Professional Clothing and Accessories
Dress for Success provides professional attire, a network of support, and career development tools for disadvantaged women referred "from a continually expanding and diverse group of non-profit and government agencies including homeless shelters, immigration services, job-training programs, educational institutions, and domestic violence shelters, among many other organizations." While most are known for providing professional attire to women in need, Dress for Success' employment-retention program serves as the cornerstone of this inspiring and established organization.
The mission of the Furniture Bank Association of North America (FBANA) is "to provide free furniture to families and individuals living in poverty and with other severe life crises, such that they cannot financially afford to furnish their own homes to even a minimal standard.” According to FBANA, of the hundreds of thousands of people who live in homes without the basic essential furnishings needed for minimum human existence, 40 percent of that population is children. The website features a map of furniture banks where you can donate gently used furniture such as beds, cribs, dressers, nightstands, tables, chairs, sofas, and lamps—anything to help a family in need start over.
With new electronics always out on the market, you may find that your still-usable techy tools just aren't being used anymore. E-cycling provides a search feature to find reuse, recycling, and donation programs for electronics across the country. They also help preserve landfill space and pollution by ensuring hazardous materials in electronics are properly disposed.
Just About Everything Else
Donation Town provides a list of charities that offer free donation pickup for clothing and other acceptable donations including furniture, household goods, baby items, toys, cars, appliances, mattresses, and even old magazines. Recently added charities that offer free pickup include Habitat for Humanity, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, Vietnam Veterans of America, and hundreds of other charities in just about every city nationwide.