Where to Donate Your Clothes: National and Local Charities - Public Goods Blog Where to Donate Your Clothes: National and Local Charities - Public Goods Blog

Where to Donate Your Clothes: National and Local Charities

If you’re anything like me, your goal anytime you clean out your closet is to donate your clothes rather than throw them away.

blue jeans and white ralph lauren sweater

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Yet sometimes the choices for clothing donation can get overwhelming.

“Where can I donate my old clothing?” you may ask yourself. Should you donate your clothing to charity, a local community organization, the neighborhood Goodwill or somewhere else? What kind of items do these organizations accept? And what’s the best way to contact these places and donate the clothing to them?

The Best National Organizations to Donate Your Clothes

When it comes to donating clothing to charity, there are many possibilities. We’ve hand-picked a few of the best places to donate the garments collecting dust in the closet. These rank highest in terms of diversity, reputation and charitability.

1. American Red Cross

american red cross logo

The American Red Cross is one of the oldest and most well-respected charity organizations in America. In operation since 1881, its main goal is to provide emergency assistance and disaster relief, both in the United States and internationally. If you’re looking for an organization where you can donate clothes that won’t be sold, then the American Red Cross is not for you; they sell donated items to raise funds for their organization.

What Kind of Clothes Can Be Donated

Almost any kind of gently-used item is accepted, including t-shirts, shoes, jackets, ties, dresses, sweaters, hats, gloves, handbags, coats, bathing suits, sleepwear and formal wear.

How to Donate

The American Red Cross accepts donations through a partnership with GreenDrop, which will pick up clothing from your home. You can also drop old clothes off at a GreenDrop donation center.

2. Dress for Success

dress for success logo

Founded in 1997, Dress for Success is an international nonprofit that empowers low-income women by providing them with professional clothing as they seek and maintain employment. So far their team has donated clothes and accessories to over one million women — and counting.

What Kind of Clothes Can Be Donated

All donations must be laundered, dry-cleaned and in good condition. Items accepted must be business-attire and can include suits, dresses, pants, skirts, blazers, undergarments and accessories like handbags and jewelry.

How to Donate

Check out this list of Dress for Success drop off locations in your area.

3. Room to Grow

room to grow logo

If you’re a parent, you know how quickly little ones outgrow their clothing. Room to Grow, a charity offering clothing, coaching and community building to low-income families, is a wonderful place to donate gently-used baby clothes and gear.

What Kind of Clothes Can Be Donated

Room to Grow only accepts baby clothing and gear. All items must be in good condition — no torn or stained clothing. All sorts of baby items are accepted, including clothing, shoes, baby gear and toys.

How to Donate

Individual donations are only accepted at drop off locations in New York City and Boston. Gifts and monetary donations are also valid.

4. Salvation Army

salvation army logo

The Salvation Army is an international charity organization founded in 1865. Part of the Protestant church, they offer assistance for families in poverty, people facing disasters, as well as services for veterans, domestic abuse survivors, the LGBTQ+ community and the elderly.

What Kind of Clothes Can Be Donated

Most common clothing items are accepted, including men’s, women’s, and children’s items. All items should be in good condition.

How to Donate

The Salvation Army has two ways to donate. You can find a drop-off location near you, or you can schedule a pick-up.

5. Project G.L.A.M.

project glam logo

Project G.L.A.M. is a New York City-based charity that provides underprivileged girls with everything they need for their proms, including clothing and accessories. Founded in 2007, Project G.L.A.M. has donated to over 7,000 young women across New York City.

What Kind of Clothes Can Be Donated

New and gently-worn, prom dresses (made in 2010 and later) are needed. Makeup and accessories are requested as well. Shoes are not accepted.

How to Donate

All donations must be mailed to:

WGIRLS INC C/O Project G.L.A.M
33 Largo Lane
Clark, NJ 07066

Click here for more info.

6. One Warm Coat

one warm coat logo

One Warm Coat is a nonprofit whose goal is to ensure that anyone in need of a winter coat gets one. In operation since 1992, they have donated more than six million coats and hosted over 34,000 coat drives.

What Kind of Clothes Can Be Donated

You can contact the local organization hosting a coat drive to ask what kinds of coats they are looking for, but gently-used or new winter or fall coats of all sizes are generally what is needed.

How to Donate

Donations are given directly to organizations that host coat drives. You can find a local coat drive sponsored by One Warm Coat here.

7. Soles4Souls

soles4souls logo

Got shoes to donate? Soles4Souls is a wonderful organization that has donated shoes to people living in poverty around the world. 30 million pairs of shoes have been donated and distributed in over 127 countries, and the organization won the Memorial Foundation Leadership Award from the Center for Nonprofit Management in 2014.

What Kind of Clothes Can Be Donated

Men’s, women’s and children’s shoes are accepted.

How to Donate

You can use this searchable map to find a drop-off location near you.

8. thredUP

thredup smartphone app home page

ThredUP is an online thrift store where you can buy and sell secondhand clothes. About 78 million items have been upcycled on thredUP since 2012. While you can sell clothes online for cash, they also provide a donation kit where instead of giving you money, they will donate $5 to a charity of your choice.

What Kind of Clothes Can Be Donated

They will accept men’s, women’s and children’s clothing and shoes that are gently-worn.

How to Donate

You can set up an account on the thredUp website, or on their app.

Donate Your Clothes to a Local Charity Organization

Sometimes you want to give back directly to your community and drop your items off in your local town or city. Here are five of the top places that usually accept clothing donations:

1. Local Places of Worship

cross on top of church, blue sky

Most churches or places of worship will accept clothing donations. Call ahead to ask whether the items can be dropped off in front of the building or need to be brought inside for collection. You can also find out what items are needed or accepted, as the criteria may vary. Usually, items are given to worshippers in-need or anyone in-need in your community.

2. Homeless Shelters

corner of a worn down brick building, blue sky

Homeless shelters not only provide safe havens for people without homes, but they also provide essentials like food and clothing. If you are interested in donating clothes to homeless shelters, you should check with shelters in your area for their current needs. Most homeless shelters are especially in need of winter coats, as well as clothing for job interviews and children’s clothing.

3. Schools

back of a yellow school bus, green trees, blue sky with clouds

Most schools hold food and clothing drives, especially during the holiday season. Usually the schools will then donate the items to local charities and shelters. Donating to a school means you are helping to teach school children — many of whom are involved in organizing the clothing drives — about the importance of giving and charity. You can contact your local school district for donation dates, needs and instructions on how to participate.

4. Community Outreach Centers

red fire truck with doors opened parked in fire department garage

Community outreach centers include places like Planned Parenthood, the YMCA, nursing homes, volunteer fire departments and domestic violence abuse shelters. The nice thing about donating to one of these places is that you know your donation will directly impact someone in your local community. It’s best to contact your local community outreach center for clothing types that are accepted and how to donate.

5. Thrift Stores

vintage warehouse thrift store, building with brick exterior painted white

Thrift stores are a great option for donating your unwanted clothing. Some thrift stores (usually called consignment shops) are for-profit businesses. But many thrift stores, such as Goodwill are also charities. It’s best to do a little research into the thrift store you are interested in donating to. You can learn about what clothing items are accepted, how to donate and where the revenue from sales go.

Recycle, Upcycle and Compost

beige cardigan sweater with stitched flowers and a leaf, shoulder, floral shirt

There will be times when you have clothes that aren’t really in a condition to be donated. You might not realize that some textiles are considered hazardous waste or special waste. It almost never makes sense to just dump your old, worn clothing in the trash. Thankfully, there are many options when it comes to recycling, upcycling, and even composting used clothing.

American Textile Recycling Services and Recycle Now are companies that collect and properly recycle textiles. Some clothing stores, such as Levi Strauss & Co. and The North Face, will accept old clothes and recycle them for you.

Just a little bit of creativity is all it takes to upcycle. Most clothing items can be turned into household rags, for example. Children’s items can be turned into memorabilia, such as a quilt made of used onesies or receiving blankets.

As for composting, as long as you remove non-compostable items such as zippers and buttons, most cotton and natural fibers can be composted, according to Recycle Bank, so feel free to add them to your pile.

You Can Always Do Your Own Charitable Work, Too

woman folding clean clothes, stacked laundry, blue jeans, striped shirts

If donating your clothing directly to a charity or community organization isn’t your top choice right now, there are a few other options to dispose of your unwanted items in sustainable and compassionate ways. You just have to get a little creative and think outside the box.

For example, you can hold a local yard sale and donate your earnings to a nonprofit that might not accept clothing donations. Or you can sell them online and donate to charity. Other ideas include starting a small clothing drive yourself in your community and donating the revenue to a charity of your choice.

If you are a parent, consider saving your kid’s outgrown clothes for their younger siblings, a cousin or other relative, or even a friend in your community. But you don’t have to be a parent to hand your clothes down to people in your life who may need them. There is nothing as fun as a clothing swap among friends or online. Have everyone bring their favorite dish and make an evening of it.

Donating Is Worth The Effort

Really, there are so many awesome choices besides emptying out your closet, dumping your unwanted clothing in the trash can and adding more waste to landfills. Once you start looking into possibilities, you’ll see that donating is simpler than you might have thought. And the idea that the clothes you no longer need could make someone’s life that much better is definitely worth the effort, no matter which option you choose.

Download Our Free Guide to Sustainable Living.

From reducing waste to recycling and upcycling, our e-book shows simple ways to make choices you can feel good about.

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