Ready to Clean Out Your Closets? The 10 Best Places to Donate Your Stuff

Get prepped for Spring cleaning with this list of 10 giveaway ideas to make sure your castoffs are going to good use

1. Donation Town

Donation Town is an online directory of numerous charities that offer donation pick-up services throughout the United States and Canada. Donation Town works with charities that typically accept donations of old or used clothing, furniture and household goods. Many also accept donated shoes, toys or baby items—and some specialize in items like prom dresses, wedding dresses and books. All you have to do is type in your zip code and Donation Town will show you a list of charities in your area you can contact directly to schedule a donation pick-up.

2. Vietnam Veterans of America

The Vietnam Veterans of America gives aid to all of the country's vets, not just those of a particular age group or war. By donating used clothes, shoes, appliances, and other items—they accept almost anything—you help generate funds that help soldiers and service men and women. Fill out a form online for its Pick Up Please service, which will come to your home to cart away your donation, usually within 24 hours.

3. Salvation Army

The Salvation Army operates 7,546 centers that offer food distribution, disaster relief, rehabilitation services, anti-human trafficking efforts, and children’s programs in communities across the country. Its work is funded through kettle donations, corporate contributions, and the sale of goods donated to its Salvation Army Family Stores. Donate clothing, furniture and household items by calling 800-728-7825 to arrange for a truck to come pick up your donation.

4. Goodwill

After you donate your shirts, shoes, blankets, electronics and other items, Goodwill sells them in one of its 2,700 Goodwill stores or on its online auction site, shopgoodwill.com, and uses the money earned to fund career, family and financial support services for veterans and military families, single mothers and many others. Last year, Goodwill helped more than 6.7 million people. Plus, Dell Reconnect, a partnership between Goodwill and Dell, has kept more than 324 million pounds of computer electronics out of the landfills since 2004. Want to know how much good your donations are doing? Use its Donation Impact Calculator to calculate the number of hours of career counseling, on-the-job training, résumé preparation and other services you’ve helped provide. To donate items, just go to its homepage and check the box for “Donation Site” to find your nearest Goodwill drop-off location, or call your local store to find out if it offers pickup services for large donations.

5. Safe Horizon

Safe Horizon is a national victim assistance organization that helps more than 250,000 people affected by child abuse, domestic violence or other violent crimes. The families that Safe Horizon serves through its program offices, drop-in centers, and shelters often need essential, basic items. Donating material goods and products can help a family recover from violence and abuse sooner and help them find their independence. Safe Horizon accepts used books, magazines and plastic or metal toys, as well as some computers, printers, cameras, cell phones, DVD movies, office furniture, jewelry, handbags and bookbags. For information regarding how to deliver your donation to Safe Horizon, call 212-577-3888 or email fundraising@safehorizon.org. They may also be able to pick up large donations of equipment or office furniture.

6. Clothes for Souls

Clothes4Souls, a division of Soles4Souls, is a global not-for-profit dedicated to fighting poverty. The organization collects new and used clothes and distributes them to people in need of clothing or supplies them to micro-enterprise programs designed to create jobs in poor and disadvantaged communities. This might mean, for example, a single table selling used shoes in an open marketplace or a street vendor with an inventory of used jeans spread out on a blanket. Use its “Blue Bin Locator” on its website to find a site near you to donate used clothing to its micro-enterprise program.

7. Freecycle

The Freecycle Network is a grassroots, nonprofit movement of people that aims to keep items out of landfills by providing online listings to help people give unwanted items to someone else for free. It’s made up of more than 5,000 groups with nearly 7 million members around the world, with each community group moderated by local volunteers. Membership is free. To sign up, find your community on its website and then post the items you have to give away. The person taking them for free will usually come pick it up from your home.

8. The Arc

The Arc is a national community-based organization advocating for and serving people with disabilities and their families. With more than 140,000 members and more than 700 state and local chapters nationwide, they encompass all ages and all spectrums of range of developmental disabilities. Many chapters operate thrift stores to raise money and hold clothing drives, pick-up clothing or used furniture at homes, or have locations for drop-off of donated items. The Arc thrift stores also often employ people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. To find out if there is a thrift store, clothing pick-up, or drop-off location near you, contact your local chapter.

9. EPA Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Electronics Challenge

Donating or recycling consumer electronics conserves natural resources and avoids air and water pollution, as well as greenhouse gas emissions that are caused by manufacturing virgin materials. According to the EPA, recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,500 U.S. homes in a year. For every million cell phones recycled, 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered. Manufacturers and retailers offer several options to donate or recycle electronics. Search online at EPA.gov to find programs developed by Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Electronics Challenge participants.

10. Recycle the World

Recycle the World is an online community that promotes the benefits of reusing, recycling, giving and sharing. With the motto “Give freely, take freely” the goal is to spare the landfills and create a national recycling community. Register online for free and start posting what you have to give away so someone who wants the items can come pick it up.

Ellen Sturm Niz is an editor and writer working, parenting, and living in New York City. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Google+.

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