Although Americans donate 4.7 billion pounds of clothing each year, that number represents only a small percentage of used clothing. Even though most used clothing can be recycled or donated, the majority of our old textiles end up in landfills. To combat this waste, it’s important for families to get in the habit of giving charitable clothing donations to worthy causes. Used clothing donations can help families in need throughout the year, but many people don’t know about the best practices or most useful items for charitable donations. Whether you’re helping military families by putting together clothing donations for veterans or you’re simply looking to clear out the clutter in your home, here are a few top tips for better charitable donations:
Choose a charity
There are thousands of worthy causes to donate your items to. Pick a charity that’s close to your heart and your values. If you’re an animal lover, consider donating food, blankets, time, or money to your local no-kill shelter. If you want to help those in need after a natural disaster, find an organization that specifically helps those victims. If you’re looking to help those who have served our country, put together clothing donations for veterans and find an organization that helps military families. No matter where you concentrate your efforts, you’ll be helping someone in need.
Prepare clothes for donation
Before packing up clothing donations for veterans or other organizations, you’ll want to wash clothes if you can. Some organizations will accept dirty clothing, but it makes a lot more work for the charity — and really, what kind of message does that send? The same goes for clothing that’s in bad shape. Don’t donate clothing that’s worn out and can’t be recycled. If you’re unsure, call the charity beforehand. You should also check all of the pockets for valuables, as these may not be able to be returned after you’ve donated the items. If you are giving away children’s clothes or baby clothes, wash in fragrance-free detergent.
Focus on much-needed items
Because men don’t tend to purchase or donate clothing as often as women do, many organizations are in need of men’s clothing. If you have kids’ jeans, winter coats, rain wear, winter boots, professional clothing, or good quality footwear, be sure to donate these. Underwear and socks are two of the most-needed items, but these must be new and unopened. Blankets, sleeping bags, and backpacks are often very useful for families in need. Talk to your local charity or shelter and ask about items that are in high demand and in low supply.
Organize similar items together
You can make less work for employees by organizing your donations before dropping them off. Many organizations have to sift through hundreds of donations in one day, so don’t pack books, clothing, and household appliances in one box. Instead, separate items by type and make sure everything is in good working order. This can also help you keep track of any items you want to keep or ones that you’ve marked specifically to give away.