Monday, June 6, 2022
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Where to Donate Used or Old Clothes to Charity

It seems like there’s always at least one thing in my closet I never wear. It could be a pair of jeans I can’t squeeze into anymore, a sweater I got as a gift and never really liked, or a special-occasion dress without an occasion. These garments are of no use to me, but they’re still in good shape, so I hate to throw them out.

I could try to make a little extra cash by selling them on eBay or Craigslist, but it never seems to be worth the trouble for just a couple of bucks. It’s much less work to donate them to local charities. And I can even get a tax deduction for my donation.

Donating old clothes has several benefits. It keeps my unused garments out of landfills and gets them into the hands of people who can really use them. With so many organizations that accept used clothes, it’s easy to do.

Where to Donate Clothes Nationally

Many charitable organizations collect old clothing items. These national organizations have drop-off sites all over the country, so it’s easy to find a location near you. Some of them can even pick up unwanted clothing from your home.

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1. American Red Cross

The American Red Cross is one of the oldest and best-known charities in the United States. Its volunteers are among the first on the scene during any natural disaster, including the 2020 through 2022 COVID-19 pandemic. It also conducts blood drives and provides training in first aid.

The Red Cross collects used clothing and sells it to thrift stores to fund its disaster relief efforts and other programs. It accepts nearly any kind of clothing in good condition, including T-shirts, pants, shirts, blouses, jackets, ties, shorts, swimsuits, sweaters, outerwear, shoes and boots, pajamas, handbags, formal wear, and even underwear.

The Red Cross has a partnership with GreenDrop, a donation pickup service used by multiple charities, to collect clothing donations. You can find a drop-off location on GreenDrop’s website or enter your name and address to schedule a donation pickup at your home.

2. Becca’s Closet

Your high school prom is a once-in-a-lifetime occasion. The eveningwear you wear to it is once-in-a-lifetime eveningwear. But once prom night is over, it just sits in a closet gathering dust.

By donating that old prom dress to Becca’s Closet instead, you can help make prom night special for someone who can’t afford a dress of their own. This nonprofit collects formal dresses to donate to high-school students who need them. It also awards scholarships to high-school seniors who have shown outstanding service to their communities.

Becca’s Closet accepts new and gently used formal dresses, both short and long, in current styles (no more than five years old). It particularly welcomes extra-large (16 and up) and extra-small sizes (0 to 4). It also collects formal shoes, evening bags, and costume jewelry. It does not accept wedding gowns, everyday dresses, or any garment with visible damage.

Becca’s Closet has 42chapters across 23 U.S. states. To donate your prom dress, select your local chapter on the organization’s website to find out where to drop off or send your dress. You can also fill out and download a donation receipt on the website for your taxes.

 3. Big Brother Big Sister Foundation

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is an organization that pairs at-risk kids with adult mentors. The one-on-one friendships these kids form with adult role models help them grow into healthy and productive adults.

The Big Brother Big Sister Foundation supports the Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies in Massachusetts by collecting gently used clothing, shoes, and household items. It resells these donated items through various venues, including thrift stores, consignment stores, auction houses, flea markets, and online sellers such as eBay. 

The foundation accepts almost any type of clothing in good condition. All sizes and seasons are acceptable, as are footwear and sleepwear. It also accepts donations like household goods, books, and musical instruments.

The organization has seven drop boxes across Massachusetts where you can drop off your clothing donations. Massachusetts residents can also schedule a pickup from home through the foundation’s website.

 4. Dress for Success

Dress for Success helps low-income women get good jobs by furnishing them with professional clothing. Founded in 1997, it now operates in almost 150 cities in 25 countries and has helped more than 1.2 million women further their careers.

Dress for Success has 88 affiliate locations within the U.S. Each one has its own hours of operation, specific drop-off days, and guidelines about what clothing items it does and doesn’t accept. However, in general, you should be able to donate any garment or accessory that’s appropriate for a job interview.

To donate, find your local Dress for Success affiliate through the main Dress for Success site. Then click on its website to learn about when and where to donate.

 5. Free The Girls

Many women believe in replacing their bras every six months. But those old bras can still serve a purpose. You can donate them to Free The Girls, which gives them to survivors of sex trafficking in places like El Salvador, Uganda, and Mozambique. Selling the bras in secondhand marketplaces provides these women with an income to support themselves and their families.

Free The Girls accepts bras of all sizes and styles in good condition. You can donate up to five bras at a time via drop-off locations in most U.S. states and four Canadian provinces. (Some locations are currently closed due to COVID-19.)

Alternatively, you can ship any number of bras to the primary collection site. Whichever method you choose, fill out the online bra donation form to register your donation. You can also choose to receive a thank-you postcard by mail.

 6. Goodwill

People facing financial challenges can develop their careers through Goodwill. Its career centers provide job training and help with job-search skills like writing resumes and preparing for job interviews. Goodwill primarily funds these programs through its nationwide network of thrift stores, and you can support its work with your clothing donation.

Goodwill accepts new and gently used clothes for adults and children. All clothes are acceptable as long as they’re in good condition. It also accepts household items, such as furniture, books, and home decor. Merchandise it can’t sell gets recycled or passed on to salvage dealers to keep it out of landfills.

You can donate to Goodwill at its stores or donation bins across the country. You can find the nearest donation site through Goodwill’s website. The nonprofit also has a handy valuation guide you can use to estimate the value of your donation for tax purposes.

 7. One Warm Coat

In freezing winter weather, a good coat can literally mean the difference between life and death. That’s why One Warm Coat collects winter coats and gives them to people in need. In the winter of 2020-2021, it collected and distributed more than 260,000 coats to people in all 50 states.

One Warm Coat accepts new and gently worn coats in clean and wearable condition. Adult and children’s coats are all acceptable as long as they’re free from holes and stains.

The organization gets most of its coats through coat drives held primarily during the fall and winter months. You can search for the nearest coat drive on One Warm Coat’s website

 8. Planet Aid

Most charities that collect used clothing accept only garments in clean, wearable condition. But Planet Aid is different. It doesn’t want to find new homes for clothes or sell them to raise cash. Its goal is to keep them out of landfills.

Accordingly, Planet Aid accepts all clothing — even apparel with small rips, holes, or stains — for adults and children. It also collects shoes and other textiles, such as bedding. However, it can’t accept goods that are dirty, wet, moldy, or worn beyond repair.

It sorts the donated clothes, with the best apparel going to clothing drives and U.S. thrift stores. Then it sells the rest to customers in developing countries. These customers sort, price, and resell the clothing items to low-income buyers. (Clothing with major damage does not sell and ends up as waste, which is why Planet Aid doesn’t accept it.) 

Planet Aid has a network of yellow drop-off bins located mainly in northeastern states. You can use the Planet Aid bin locator to find one near you. If there’s no bin in your area, you can pack up to 70 pounds of clothing and other goods in a box and print out a shipping label to send it to Planet Aid via UPS or U.S. mail for a flat $17.

 9. The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army is a religious organization that focuses heavily on charitable work. Its many programs include homeless shelters, food pantries, alcohol and drug rehabs, Christmas toy drives, after-school programs, job training, and disaster relief. Its work helps veterans, children, older people, survivors of domestic abuse, and the LGBTQ community.

To fund its drug rehab centers, the Salvation Army operates an extensive network of thrift stores. It accepts donations of all kinds of goods, including furniture, household goods, appliances, and clothing for adults and children.

Visit the Salvation Army website to find a drop-off location or schedule a free pickup online. Like Goodwill, the Salvation Army has a donation value guide to help you calculate the tax deduction you can take for your donation.

 10. Soles4Souls

The mission of Soles4Souls is “turning shoes and clothing into opportunity.” It distributes new shoes and clothing directly to people in need in the U.S. and around the world and ships used ones overseas to help people in developing countries start their own small businesses in resale.

Soles4Souls accepts all new and gently worn shoes — every size, every style. There are two ways to donate:

  1. Deposit your shoes at a drop-off location in your area. If you drop off shoes for donation at a DSW store, you get bonus points on your DSW membership card to apply toward a new purchase.
  2. Ship up to 50 pounds’ worth with a free prepaid shipping label from Zappos for Good.

Soles4Souls requests that you fill out a donation form to enclose with each bag or box of shoes you donate.

 11. Vietnam Veterans of America

The Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is part charity, part political organization. It helps  veterans with claiming benefits, educates the public about physical and mental health problems affecting vets, and lobbies for better health care for veterans.

The VVA collects clothing and household items for two purposes. It donates some items to homeless and low-income vets and sells others in its resale stores to raise funds for its various programs. It accepts clothing, shoes, and accessories of all kinds.

There are two ways to donate to the VVA. You can schedule a pickup on the VVA site or use the same site to locate the nearest drop-off location. Currently, there are drop-off points in 24 U.S. states.

Where to Donate Clothes Locally

Along with these national organizations, there are probably a few charities in your local area that can accept clothing donations. However, since each one is different, you have to research to find them and learn about what they accept.

 12. Places of Worship

Places of worship, such as churches, often hold clothing drives to benefit families in need. Sometimes, they also collect used clothes to resell in their own thrift stores, using the money to benefit the church and its outreach programs.

Contact places of worship in your area directly to see if they accept clothing donations. Ask for details about what apparel they need and where to drop it off. Some churches have donation bins outside the building, while others collect garments at a specific location inside.

A community outreach center is any organization that directly provides services to community members. These services can include education, social services, health care, and activities. Examples include preschools, health clinics, the YMCA and YWCA, domestic violence shelters, volunteer fire departments, and nursing homes.

Any of these diverse organizations may hold clothing drives or collections to benefit needy people in your area. Depending on the organization, it might focus on winter coats, school uniforms, other children’s clothing, or women’s clothing. 

The nice thing about donating to a community outreach center is that you know your old clothes will help someone in your local community.

 14. Homeless Shelters and Missions

The primary purpose of a homeless shelter or mission is to provide people with a safe place to stay. But many shelters also provide necessities like food and clothing, and your old clothes can help.

Winter coats and warm blankets are particularly welcome during the winter months to protect those most at risk from the cold. Children’s clothing and clothing for job interviews can also be welcome. Check with local shelters to find out what kind of apparel they need.

 15. School Clothing Drives

Many public schools hold food and clothing drives, particularly during the holiday season, and pass the donated items on to charities. Hosting these events helps teach the students about the value of giving.

Contact schools in your area to learn about upcoming clothing drives and how to donate. You can also ask if your donation qualifies for a tax deduction before you donate.

16. Thrift Stores

Not all thrift stores are nonprofits. But even donating to a local for-profit thrift shop can do some good for your local community. Because thrift stores resell clothing at rock-bottom prices, they make it easier for low-income families to afford the clothes they need.

The bad news is you can’t get a tax break for dropping your unwanted clothes off at a for-profit thrift store. The good news is it’s a way to declutter your home and help people in your community.

Final Word

Donating your used clothing allows you to support charities when you can’t donate cash. No matter which charity you choose, your unused clothes will do more good in a donation bin than sitting in your closet. Try to schedule a clear-out once per year for everyone in your household. Donating annually helps ensure the clothes you donate are still in style.

When you give to a charity, get a receipt that shows what clothing items you gave and their condition. You’ll need it if you want to claim a tax deduction for your donation. Keep the receipt with your tax records to protect you in case the IRS audits you.

If you find yourself with used clothes that are too worn-out to donate, there’s still one more alternative: textile recycling. Ask your town or city if it has a textile recycling program or do a search on “textile recycling near me.” 



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