‘Tis the season for giving, right? Many people think you have to go out and buy donation items, but most of the necessities men, women, and children require can be found inside your home. We collect clutter easily, especially if you have one or more children living in the house. From unused holiday gifts from last year to those hotel shampoos you keep collecting but have never used, there are at least ten items already in your house that you can donate today.
You may have a favorite place to donate such as GoodWill (Keep in mind, your donations will need to be “purchased” from GoodWill stores), but I prefer shelters for women and children escaping a dangerous situation at home. There is a personal connection I feel with these women. These individuals live in fear and may have fled their home with just a trash bag of clothing. Your kindness to these women’s’ shelters or homeless shelters will be greatly appreciated, and you can do it year-round!
If you don’t know where to donate, check out the links at the bottom of this article.
1. Wardrobe Items
Go through your closet. See what you’ve worn and what you haven’t in the last year. Do you have “skinny” clothes you plan on wearing when you finally lose that ten or so pounds? Right now, shelters are looking for sweaters, sweatshirts, socks, winter jackets, and plus-size clothing. Check your jewelry box too. Do you have necklaces you used to love, but don’t have a reason to wear anymore or are out of style? Donate those earrings, necklaces, and bracelets.
Undergarments are also on the list, but please buy these—Don’t donate used underwear or bras. Some wardrobe items that should be donated new include socks, undergarments, and winter shoes.
2. Personal Hygiene
You probably don’t realize the luxuries you have at home. You can take a shower with soap, shampoo, conditioner, a loofa, and an exfoliating wash. People in need don’t have those options. I tend to travel a lot each year so I make sure to grab as many hotel shampoos, soaps, conditioners, and lotions as I can because I know I’ll be donating them in December and January. You probably have a few of them in your home too. Throw them in a bag and take them to your local homeless shelter or women’s center. Deodorant is another big donation item shelters are looking for right now.
Feminine hygiene products are often overlooked. Women reading this article may not have considered how awful it would be to have your period without any tampons, pads, or panty liners. Feminine hygiene products are costly and too much for women fleeing abuse or facing homelessness.
3. Backpacks, Luggage, and Totes
I love Victoria’s Secret sales. Why? Because the totes they offer several times a year are half the reason I shop there. I have four in my closet right now that will be donated this month. Your home probably has some too. Maybe they’re from an event you attended, Ikea, etc., but will they ever be used? The same goes for luggage and backpacks. As long as they’re not too worn in, you can donate them so they can serve a better purpose than hiding in the back of your closet.
4. Items for Children and Infants
It’s a fact we don’t like to think about—homeless kids, toddlers, and babies who don’t have the necessities they need to be healthy and continue to grow. Some of these items you may have at home, but others may need to be purchased before donating:
Diapers of all sizes
Canned baby food
Non-perishable snacks and microwave ready meals for older kids and their parent(s)
5. Gently-Used Toys & Old School Supplies
Your house is likely filled with toys—hundreds in some cases. Well-meaning grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends want to give your child the “best gift ever” for holidays and birthdays, which has left you drowning in toys your kid already forgot they have. This could be an annual or bi-annual project for your family.
Teach your children how meaningful it is to donate to others who don’t have the gifts and opportunities they have in your home. Challenge your children to give 5, 10, or a boxful of toys away and take them with you to drop them off. Seeing the impact they can have on other kids will teach them more than the Dino-truck they got last year. They will notice your compassion for others and mimic it. It could even make them more likely to stand up for themselves and other kids when they run into a bully at school.
Toys are just one option, though. Each year, you buy school supplies, and each summer, you realize how much they didn’t use. Tear out the used pages of that almost-full notebook, gather the disarrayed colored pencils, and throw them in your donation box too.
If your child is enjoying the process, you may want to go to the store and buy backpacks, coats, socks, and other items for the center also.
6. Canned Goods & Non-Perishables
In the back of your Lazy Susan, lives at least one can of green beans you’ve had since last Christmas. Check the expiration date of course, but take this time to clear out your pantry and give the cans away. There are food drives everywhere, so it will be easy to find a place to drop them off. Non-perishable snacks and meals are perfect donation items too. This could include mac and cheese boxes, soup mixes, and even ramen noodles. Identify the foods in your pantry that you most likely won’t eat in the near future and throw them in your donation box (hopefully you have a few boxes now!).
7. Books & Magazines
Sometimes, I feel I’m one of the last millennials who still buy magazines and books. I love the smell of them and the joy of turning the page. However, this means that I have a stack 50 deep of Time, National Geographic, Consumer Reports, and The New Yorker. If you’re like me, gather the books and magazines you’ve read, didn’t like, or those you don’t think you’ll ever crack open, and donate them to your local library. Depending on the type of books, you could give them to elementary schools and learning centers as well. We live in a digital age, but magazines and books are still a great way to escape for an hour or two, and everyone should have easy access to them. Don’t let them collect dust anymore.
8. DVDs You Haven’t Watched in Years
Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime have pretty much done away with the need to buy DVDs. Many of us still have a stockpile of them. I’ve watched a total of five DVDs in the last 12 months, yet I own 100. Join me this year in getting rid of the DVDs you haven’t watched or movies you also bought online to clear up space in your home and give the gift of entertainment to shelters, especially those for abused women and children. These individuals are struggling to start their life over away from harm and fear. A break from reality by watching Wonder Woman (or Enough with Jennifer Lopez—Watch it now if you haven’t seen it) could be just what they need to keep their spirits up.
I think my fiancé has two of every kind of tool available. Does he use all of them in a year? Maybe, but I doubt it. Tools in good condition are great items to donate to your local church or community center where they rely on donations to keep their roofs up and walls in good condition. If you’re not willing to part with your tools, consider donating your time to help fix an issue at your church or community center of choice, or just ask a neighbor if they need help.
10. Your Time
Small towns and cities alike come together this time of year to do great things. I’m guessing you have nearly a dozen choices when it comes to volunteering in your town. Schools, action centers, churches, and much more put on events to raise funding for worthy causes and make sure everyone in the area has food to eat. This doesn’t have to be a once a year thing. You, your spouse, kids, friends, and other family members can make volunteering a regular occurrence, and who knows? Maybe your actions will rub off on your neighbors.
If you’re interested in donating any of the items listed above, please check these outlets to see where your donations are needed most and have a great holiday!