Stop wish-donating your stuff and find where your cast-offs could get a second life right now.

By Lisa Milbrand
June 29, 2020
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Marie Kondo would definitely be proud of us. With a lot of extra time on our hands during quarantine—and plenty of opportunity to figure out what bothers us about our homes—we’ve had plenty of time to start decluttering during quarantine and find all the things that no longer spark joy for us.

But now that you’ve spring cleaned your house and bagged up your cast-offs, you may be having a hard time finding some place to offload your old (but still in good shape) clothes and discarded board games. Many charities stopped accepting or picking up donations as the coronavirus spread, leading to people leaving goods piled high around donation bins and charity locations, where they can be ruined by rain and the elements.

Don’t let your perfectly good, gently used stuff go to waste like that. It may take a little more effort on your end, but finding a welcoming home for your cast-offs is good for you, for the people who need them, and for the environment. Make sure your old clothes, unused kitchen gear, furniture, outgrown toys, and other household items don’t go to waste by donating wisely now.

Some of the most common charities that accepted clothing and goods donations—including Salvation Army, Goodwill, and Vietnam Veterans of America—have started allowing limited pickups or drop-offs, depending on the current COVID-19 conditions in the area. Keep in mind that they are still not up to full capacity, and there’s high demand for donating items, so you may have to be a little patient and hold on to your donations for a few months. Check the website for your region to get full details on whether (and what) your favorite charity is accepting.

Women’s shelters often look to provide clothing and household goods to the women who stay there. If you have baby clothes and gear, that’s often especially needed. You can get in touch with your local shelters through Women’s Shelters.

With the high unemployment rate, many soup kitchens were inundated with new clients, and some have also started providing other items, like clothing and household goods. Keep in mind that they often have little space to store items, so they will likely only accept summer clothes at the moment. (You’ll need to hold on to your winter sweaters and coats until the weather turns colder.)

Groups that work with refugees often outfit them with clothing and household goods to help them get started in their new home. Reach out to your local organization to see if they’re accepting donations.

In my town, one school is prepping for a used book and CD sale, and another has a closet in the school where students in need can get clothing. The Boy Scouts are collecting gently used clothing, toys, and shoes. Check your favorite groups’ social media accounts (or your town’s) to see who might be collecting used goods.

With the tax code changes over the last few years, fewer people need to itemize deductions—and that means fewer people are trying to qualify for tax write-offs for donating. You can offer your items for free on craigslist, Freecycle, or Facebook swap groups for people to enjoy. (Or charge a small fee per item, and donate the money to a favorite charity.) 

People have started getting creative with ways to give away their unwanted belongings. Some have created their own little libraries to share books, DVDs, and other media they no longer love. Others have created garage giveaways where they put out tables of their goods like a standard garage sale, and just let people take what they want or need. Some neighborhoods have even set aside a small spot near their library or school where people can leave nonperishable food and secondhand goods, and their neighbors are free to take and give away as they please.