Boy taking donation box full with stuff to donate

How to Donate to Do Good and Declutter, Too

Have you ever wondered if the stuff in your house secretly reproduces itself in the dark of night? I’m nearly convinced that’s the case in my home. I do know the problem.

We get new stuff but don’t remove an equal amount of old stuff to make room for it. And I’m not talking about useless trash.

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I’m the first to admit it’s not easy to throw away a perfectly good pair of eyeglasses—even if they are the wrong prescription. Or a cell phone or computer that still works, but is now obsolete. And we shouldn’t. But filling our lives and spaces with all kinds of stuff we don’t need or use is not the answer, either.

My quest to find a charitable place to donate usable eyeglasses turned up other ways we can do good and perhaps get money-saving tax breaks, too.

Prescription Eyeglasses

For more than 80 years, Lions Clubs International has collected and distributed prescription eyeglasses to the needy around the world. Got a few pairs around your house you wouldn’t mind donating to this excellent cause?

Lions Club sponsors numerous sight initiatives, including eyeglass donations. Glasses collected by the Lions Club go to programs such as schools, community centers, churches, and developing countries.

For a list of Lions Eyeglass Recycling Centers, this page or look for Lions Club collection boxes at Walmart vision centers and Sam’s Club stores; at local Lions Clubs and Goodwill Industries stores. You can also go to LionsClubs.org. to find a drop-off location.

 

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OneSight is a wonderful organization that hand delivers gently used prescription eyeglasses to global, regional, and community clinics. To donate your glasses to OneSight, drop them off at your local LensCrafters,  Pearle Vision, Sears Optical, or Target Optical. Click here to find a donation box near you.

 

RELATED: Worst and Best Ways to Clean Your Eyeglasses

Bicycles and Sewing Machines

Many communities have bicycle recycle programs that help underprivileged kids through earn-a-bike incentive programs. The International Bicycle Fund is one such organization that also distributes bikes around the world.

Pedals for Progress has received, processed and donated over 155,000 bicycles, 4,000 used sewing machines and $10.8 million in new spare parts to partner charities in developing countries.

This group partners with charities around the world where poor people need cheap non-polluting transportation and a way to use their skills to become more self-sufficient or start a small business.

Fabric and Yarn

Project Linus volunteers make quilts and knit items for critically ill children. There are chapters around the country, many of which would gladly accept supplies they need to sew and knit. Contact a local chapter directly to discover what they currently need and are accepting.

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The Quilts of Valor Foundation gives quilts to servicemen and women touched by war. Contacting the organization to connect with volunteer quilters who are ready willing and able to take all that beautiful fabric and or yarn off your hands!

Donating fabric and yarn to these kinds of charities will really help these organizations fulfill their missions and make you feel great.

Wedding and Prom Dresses

The gift of your wedding gown helps Making Memories Foundation fulfill wishes for terminal breast cancer patients and makes a new bride’s special day even more meaningful. Donations may be made during any Brides Against Breast Cancer event or sent directly to: Making Memories Foundation, 12708 SE Stephens Street, Portland, Ore., 97233; 503 252-3955.

Got one prom dress too many? Donate it to someone less fortunate. That’s what Becca’s Closet does on a big and still growing scale! Go here to find one of Becca’s collection and distribution organizations.

 

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Another donation opportunity for prom dresses is Operation Prom—they also accept and distribute tuxedos! Find the nearest Operation Prom dropoff location here.

Computers, Printers, Office Equipment

The National Cristina Foundation,  (203 863-9100), will put you together with a charity in your area that needs your old computers, printers and other equipment to help people with disabilities, students at risk and those who are economically disadvantaged. Computers and printers are the most needed, but other related types of equipment are also needed.

 

Go to christina.org and input your zip code. Then follow the directions for how to get your stuff to a local organization that will be so grateful to take that off your hands.

Cell Phones and More

Your old mobile phone may be useless to you, but it could be a lifesaver for another. Cell Phones for Soldiers is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to providing cost-free communication services and emergency funding to active-duty military members and veterans and graciously accepts smartphones and tablets.

Visit Cell Phones for Soldiers website to find a local collection center or write to info@cellphonesforsoldiers for more information.

MORE: Take My Mobile Phone, Please!

Best Buy has recycling kiosks in their stores in the US, as well as recycling in-store for no charge to you. They typically limit it to three items per family, per day. From there, they work with recycling companies to make sure the phones and other electronics don’t end up in landfills.

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The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) collects cell phones to help fund their programs. Currently accepting all types of mobile devices. Details here.

NCADV also accept other types of old electronics, too, including old laptops, digital cameras, video game consoles, and MP3 players, along with all of the related charging cords and accessories.

Secure the Call is an organization that accepts used cell phones and then repurposes them as emergency-only devices meant to dial 911 dispatchers.

Did you know that all cell phones sold in the U.S., regardless of their carrier subscription status, must be able to dial 911 in case of an emergency? That means that old phone tucked away in the back of your junk drawer will still call for an ambulance or police assistance, provided the battery is chargeable.

This organizaiton checks each donated phone to make sure the battery still works, packages them with a charging cable, and then distributes them to needy members of the community who also happen to be at high risk for needing help from first responders like police and medical professionals. These include domestic abuse survivors and the elderly.

 

Question: Do you know of other reputable donation opportunities for the things we may no longer need but could change someone else’s life? Please share what you know in the comments area below—with as much detail as possible. Thanks!

First published: 5-01-19; Updated & revised with new information: 9-2-19


PREVIOUSLY: Retail Panic for Some Means Job Security for Others

 

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12 replies
  1. Danielle Backer
    Danielle Backer says:

    I’ve donated my unused, unopened diabetes supplies to Insulin For Life. Their website is www.ifl-usa.org – they accept anything from insulin (various forms – cartridge, pens, etc.), insulin pump supplies, testing strips, ketone testing strips, A1C testing kits, testing meters, lancets and syringes. I have type 1 diabetes, and recently when I switched to a different brand insulin pump, I did some research and sent all my old materials to this company. I did receive a donation receipt via email.

    Reply
  2. Mrs. Potts
    Mrs. Potts says:

    Mary, where would I take a laptop that we were given used in 1992? Yes, it is a relic! I doubt it can still be used but I wonder if it has value because of its age. I don’t know where to start to find a buyer.

    Reply
      • Mrs. Potts
        Mrs. Potts says:

        I’ve read that these older laptops have metals (in particular gold) that make them more than just e-waste. I just don’t know where to turn to find people that buy these items.

  3. Pam H.
    Pam H. says:

    I would love to find a facility that accepts old fabrics (worn out jeans, etc.) that they then recycle into other items. Thanks.

    Reply
  4. Bobbie Kolb
    Bobbie Kolb says:

    Love the suggestions! For wedding and prom dress donation, I have another one to add to the list: https://www.nicuhelpinghands.org/programs/angel-gown-program/. It’s an organization that will make burial gowns for stillborn babies and newborns that aren’t strong enough to survive. It helps provide a bit of support and dignity for the grieving families.

    Reply
    • linder
      linder says:

      We donated our daughter’s wedding dress a site in Michigan (that I can’t find now!) that remade the dresses for brides while teaching young women a skill.
      You can also check www.thebridesproject.org, (cancer support community), www.bridesacrossamerica.com (military brides). tons of places out there who gladly accept donations.

      Reply
  5. Sue in MN
    Sue in MN says:

    For fabric, yarn, etc try your local senior center, the quilters at your own church, or the local chapter of the American Sewing Guild (ASG) – all are known to make excellent use of donated materials. For excess craft supplies, contact nursery schools, adult day programs, or senior centers in your area.
    Another tip: Tote bags, backpacks, and other luggage, both hard and soft, seem to multiply at our house. The local homeless shelter LOVES to receive them – their clients usually appear with their belongings in garbage bags. Ditto blankets, sheet, pillows and towels in good condition – not the ones you were planning to use as rags.

    Reply
  6. Cherie St Cyr
    Cherie St Cyr says:

    The sewing machine project in Madison Wisconsin takes functioning sewing machine with manuals (available online to print) and sends them to organizations nationally and internationally. Sewingmachineproject.org they have collection sites around Wisconsin.

    Reply

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