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5 Places to Donate Your Old Stuff

posted: 01/13/16
by: Blythe Copeland
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While selling your old stuff is tempting -- you could make hundreds of dollars from this junk that's just taking up space in your attic! -- it also takes effort, whether that means pricing your items for consignment, packing and shipping them, or listing them on Amazon or Craigslist. Donating them lets you help a worthy cause while getting everything out of your house immediately -- a double dose of instant gratification that's hard to pass up.

1. Toys

National organizations like Goodwill and Toys for Tots always take toys, but you may be able to find a more local organization that can put them directly into the hands of needy kids; look for social services offices in your area that pass kids' gear onto deserving families. Another idea: Check with hospitals, doctors offices, day cares, and shelters near you to see if rules allow them to take old toys. And your own church or child's preschool could probably also benefit from a few new-to-them items.

2. Office supplies

If you find handfuls of pens, pencils, and markers alongside stacks of empty notebooks when you reorganize your office, then consider donating those supplies. Develop Africa collects new and used supplies to support classrooms throughout the country, taking everything from backpacks and calculators to papers and pencils. The Muscular Dystrophy Association takes donations of office, craft, and medical supplies to keep operating costs down, too; you can also call your district's schools to look for teachers and classrooms in your community that would benefit from your donation.

3. Books and magazines

Most local libraries will take book donations, either to add to their collections or sell at super-cheap prices to raise money, so you should start by checking the library in your town. If you have mostly children's books to donate, you can offer those up alongside the toys to a preschool or daycare. The Prison Book Program sends fiction, nonfiction, and reference books to prisoners, and holds an annual fundraiser specifically to fund donations of dictionaries. And the United States Book Exchange takes donations of old magazines and periodicals, offering them up to libraries and other groups looking for stacks of back issues.

4. Toiletries

We know you really thought you would use all those mini toiletries that you took from the unattended housekeeping cart the last time you traveled, but if they are just taking up space in your drawer (along with lotions, shampoo, and soap from every other hotel you've stayed at in the last five years), it's time to pass them on. Your best bet: Local women's shelters and organizations that provide services to the homeless. These vary from state to state, but by looking up a few specific to your area you can get those toiletries out of your closet and into the hands of people who will appreciate them.

5. Home improvement items

Planning a home renovation? Don't just rent a dumpster and trash those old windows, cabinets, doors, and appliances: Instead, donate them. Habitat for Humanity ReStore is one place you can donate everything from door knobs to the kitchen sink (literally), giving other DIYers a chance to snap up your old goods before they end up in a landfill. (Similar organizations aimed at contractors and builders on a local level exist in many states and towns, too.)