When you think about donating items, there are a few staples like non-perishable food to food banks and gently used clothing to shelters for people experiencing homelessness. But there are also opportunities to donate unexpected items you have around the house, too. Here are some items you might not realize you can donate—and the organizations that want them.
Prescription eyeglasses and hearing aids can improve the lives of the people who need them. But they’re also very expensive, costing as much as hundreds of dollars per pair. The Lions Club is an international service organization that collects used eyeglasses to donate them to people who need them. There are several ways to donate eyeglasses you don’t use anymore. The organization also facilitates getting people the hearing aids they need through the Hearing Charities of America. Thrift shops may also accept these items.
Depending on the type of medical equipment or supplies you have, you may be able to help someone else. Med-Eq helps connect charities with medical equipment they need. To see if your equipment or supplies are needed, simply go to the donation page and fill out the information requested. A Med-Eq-approved charity will contact you. Project C.U.R.E. is another organization connecting medical equipment and supplies to the communities and people who need them. They accept durable medical equipment and some consumable medical supplies.
Millions of bras make their way into landfills each year, and many are gently used. BraRecycling.com accepts clean old, new, and gently used bras to be redistributed to people who need them. Free the Girls is another nonprofit that collects bras to help women affected by sex trafficking in Africa and Central America, while I Support the Girls helps get bras and menstrual hygiene products to people in housing shelters. You can donate through a drop-off location or by mail.
If you have a pile of gently used stuffed animals, they could continue their own toy story with another child. Stuffed Animals for Emergencies accepts stuffed animals—as well as blankets, books, and children’s clothing—cleans them and gets them to children who may be in traumatic or emotional situations. Regional organizations like Second Chance Toys accept plastic toys, too. These items may also be accepted by local shelters, houses or worship, or other charities that work with children.
If your bookshelves could use a little downsizing, a number of organizations might want your extra tomes. You can collect and ship used paperback to U.S. troops, both abroad and in the U.S. Check with your local library, as some sell books for fundraising purposes. Assisted living facilities, hospitals, nursing homes, or community centers may also be interested in the books for the people they serve.
While it’s not exactly a charitable donation, you can also support local small businesses when you declutter. If you’ve received floral deliveries over the years, you may have a collection of unused vases that a local florist could use for another bouquet. Dry cleaning services may take back wire hangers, and farm stands may welcome your extra plastic bags. Organizations like Recork and TerraCycle collect materials like cork and plastic to be recycled into other products. It's not a charitable donation, but it keeps these items out landfills and helps the planet.
Get more ideas and inspiration about how you can donate and volunteer by visiting www.createthegood.org.