You can breathe new life into your old clothes, electronics, and household goods and make a positive difference in someone’s life with one simple act: donating. With the rise of “fast fashion,” there seems to be a revolving door on many people’s closets. Compared to 20 years ago, the average American buys a minimum of twice as many items of clothing. So where is it all going? Unfortunately, a good portion of it — we’re all guilty of this — ends up sitting in the back of our closets. Some of it ends up just simply being thrown away. And, a portion is donated, either to secondhand stores or charitable organizations, such as those that are focused on helping military families. So why donate? What should you know before donating clothes? What kind of organizations should you look for?
Giving Back Feels Good
Have you ever noticed that after donating (either financially or with goods) or volunteering, you just feel good? Giving back often results in a positive feeling, knowing that you’ve helped make someone’s day easier or brighter. It’s a great value to instill in your children at a young age as well.
Many of us can agree that we simply have too much “stuff” around. Almost every household goes through a purge at least once a year. But what to do with all those items? If they’re in good condition or at least gently used, they can be donated, which ends up being a win-win for all parties involved!
Make a Difference
If you make monetary gifts — whether it’s to your alma mater, an organization helping military families, or one that supports low-income families, as examples — you know that your donations are making a difference in the programs and way of life in their lives. Donating a winter coat, professional attire, or other items of clothing can make a huge difference for those purchasing or receiving the pieces of clothing.
Help the Environment!
Did you know that we as a country send almost 11 million tons of clothing to the landfill every year? The worst part about that is that almost 100% of textiles that end up in the landfill could have been reused in some way. In 2006, used-clothing purchases saved almost three billion pounds of fabric from winding up in a landfill — and imagine how much more we could be saving by being conscientious about where our garments end up.
What to Keep In Mind When It Comes to Clothes Donations
You don’t want to be donating stained, wrinkled, stretched out, or shrunken clothing. This is clothing that people are going to purchase and wear — or receive — and you want it to look like something that someone would be proud to wear. Gently used is okay, but bleach stains, holes, missing buttons, or zippers that don’t work aren’t. Make sure you vet your clothes before donating them, to make sure that they’re acceptable. Things that aren’t can be used as play clothes or turned into rags.
Depending on the charity you pick, you may be eligible for a tax write-off. Look for groups that are tax-exempt, per the IRS’s section 501(c)(3). For example, men’s overcoats and suits are generally worth about $60 as a tax write-off.
What Kind of Charity Organizations Should I Look For?
If you have a specific cause that’s dear to your heart, such as helping military families, or working with the homeless, you should seek out charities that support that kind of work. Find charities that accept clothing donations as well as financial donations — your donations may be given directly to those in need or used to fund programs that support them, so your donation can be multi-purpose.
Also make sure that your charitable organization of choice is reputable — what are people saying about it? Are they transparent with where your donations go? Is there visible proof of the work that they do?
Donating and volunteering one’s time, whether it’s helping military families, supporting at-risk communities, or senior care is a worthwhile experience that enriches not only the people you serve and support, but you as well.