give.jpg Time to clean out the closet? Before you figure out what you can recycle and what you can toss, think about giving some of your items to a charity. You’ll be shocked by what you can give away. Everything from cars to shoes to shopping bags is up for donation. And it’s all a tax write-off! Below are some ideas for what to give to charity and where to give.


The most popular item to donate is, of course, clothing. For the easiest options, you can donate to reuse stores like Goodwill or find a Planet Aid bin. Also, keep an eye out for when Purple Heart is coming by or schedule a pick-up. Then there are the less traditional ways of donating clothing. You can actually donate those old bras to charities that distribute them to crisis centers and breast cancer support groups. Check out Bras for a Cause or The Bra Recyclers. You can even donate your old wedding dress or general formal wear like prom dresses. After all, you only wear it once, right? You can find a list of charities that take old formal wear at For instance, Brides for Haiti gives away wedding gowns to Haitian brides and sells the gowns to fund parish outreach. The Seattle Times ran a great Q&A on donating old clothing. In general, don’t donate wet clothing with mildew or clothing stained with paint or chemicals. A good general rule is that if you haven’t worn it in two years, it’s probably time to donate it.


Old electronics can be downright hazardous if they’re thrown away. The chemicals in them have that little habit of contaminating the environment. A much better option is to give your old electronics a new life, especially if they are still in working order. A great idea is to find local charities and nonprofits you believe in and call them up. See if they take any old electronics for their offices or volunteers. Many of these groups tend to run on shoestring budgets and probably wouldn’t mind an updated electronic device dumped into their laps. There are also several organizations that take old electronics and reroute them to people in need. For instance, Hope Phones takes old phones. The funds from the old phones are used to generate income to provide new electronic devices to health workers in developing countries.


Instead of junking your car, you can donate it. There are plenty of ways to go about it. If you’re not sure where to start, you can find a directory of places to get more info here, although most of these numbers will route you to Volunteers of America, which is one of the many volunteer organizations that take old vehicles. Others include RawhidePurple Heart and possibly your local branch of the Boys and Girls Club of America. Even the Humane Society will take your old car. What it does is put the car up for auction, and then 80 percent of the proceeds go to the Humane Society of the United States.

Pet items

Speaking of the humane society, your local animal shelter would love your old pet items. Really love them. Any used and still functional pet items work. They need leashes, dog beds, towels, blankets, old pet toys and even any unopened dog food you have around. Go to your local humane society’s website, where they will probably have a list of items they can use. Otherwise, give them a call and tell them what you’ve got. Don’t forget local animal rescues, either.


Old DVDs, books, CDs, video games, etc. are great items for donation. Good places to donate these items are charities that give to at-risk youth, crisis centers and health facilities. Anywhere where underprivileged people gather and could use a good book works. Other ideas involve schools, churches, libraries, community centers and local prisons.


Here’s another popular item to donate, and it’s a cinch to donate shoes. One of the most prominent groups out there is Soles4Souls, which donates shoes to people in developing nations. According to the charity’s website, “Since 2006, Soles4Souls has collected and distributed 26 million pairs of new shoes to those in need in 127 countries around the world and all 50 states in the U.S. Every day children are prevented from attending school, adults are unable to work. Walking becomes unbearable. A new pair of shoes provides relief today so thousands can succeed tomorrow.”

Shopping bags

Given how often reusable shopping bags are handed out for free, it’s easy to end up with too many of these suckers. Or maybe yours is just worn out. You may have some charities that take reusable shopping bags in your area. A good place to start asking around is at food pantries or charities that distribute clothing to needy families. You can also see if reusable bag makers have a take-back program. Another option might be to check if grocery stores will take them back or give them away for you.


Still have that bottle of soap you got for your birthday that smells weird? Have tons of bottles of lotion you accumulated but couldn’t possibly use in a lifetime? Consider donating it. There are lots of charities that will take your used toiletries. A great place to start is halfway homes, shelters and the like. Otherwise, Clean the World is all about getting soap to the people who need it. You can ship your soap to the centers listed at their site. They also have some great advice for starting your own soap drive.

Greeting cards

Yes, you can even recycle your greeting cards. Groups like St. Jude’s Ranch for Children takes your greeting cards and turns them into new cards. Proceeds from the sales help the abused, the homeless and at-risk families. The cards are upcycled by children at the ranch who remove the front and attach a new back. The work is part of the Kids’ Corp. program, which teaches kids entrepreneurial skills.

Furniture/home items

Don’t forget to donate used furniture as well. The items can be bulky, and it may seem like a pain, but charities like Goodwill and Purple Heart will often schedule pickups to come and get your home items. You can also contact shelters and community organizations to see if they need furniture or other home items.