Fall is a great time to reassess your clothing, home furnishings and appliances, and declutter as you prepare to host guests and simplify for the new year. Another added benefit of decluttering? The opportunity to give back by donating your items to people and organizations in need.
Our professional move managers have helped countless clients declutter their kitchens, closets and living rooms, while simultaneously giving back by finding homes for items ranging from book collections and jewelry to instruments and figurine collections. That piano you haven’t touched in years might bring joy to a young child or an avid piano collector. That antique armoire might just be the perfect piece for a DIY enthusiast looking to refurbish their next piece of furniture.
Here are a few tips and resources to help you declutter your home, while giving back this holiday season or year-round.
Give Your Good Clothing to a Good Cause
You’ve likely heard that most of us only wear 20% of the clothing in our closet. Ouch! What’s more, we’re betting you have clothing that is in excellent used condition and may benefit someone else.
There are many organizations across the country (like Soles4Souls, Success in Style and Dress for Success) that help people in need find clothing for job interviews and other professional events. There are also organizations like Operation Prom and Becca’s Closet that donate homecoming and prom dresses to low-income schools.
With that in mind, it’s time to Marie Kondo your wardrobe. Comb through every item (maybe even host your own little mini fashion show) and ask yourself if it’s worth keeping. A few considerations:
- When was the last time you wore it?
- Is it in good condition?
- Does it fit well and is it comfortable? Is it too big, too tight, too short?
- Do you have occasion to wear it? (formalwear or skiwear, for instance, may not be practical in your life anymore)
- Does wearing it make you feel happy and confident?
Organize the “no” pile into two separate categories: Donate and Toss.
Asses Your Furniture, Housewares, Appliances
As you prepare your guest rooms, living spaces, and kitchen for the holidays, assess what items you haven’t used in a bit, or no longer fit your lifestyle. That mixer or InstantPot that’s been collecting dust? Someone else would gladly take them.
If you have gently used furniture, housewares and appliances that are in good condition, organizations such as Habitat ReStores accept (and often pick up) donations. You’ll feel good knowing that these items often go to people in need.
If you’re planning to undergo some home renovations or even redecorating, your appliances and furniture could help make someone else’s home complete.
Books are often the hardest thing for people to part with, but there are plenty of ways to make sure each book gets its very own new chapter—after all, if you’re never going to read it again, wouldn’t you rather someone else enjoy it? Here are a few places to consider donating your books:
- Local library
- Local schools (daycares through high school) and universities
- Local hospitals and nursing homes
- Community centers
- Homeless shelters
- Retirement homes
- Books for Soldiers sends books, DVDs, board games and more to deployed members of our military
- Books for Africa collects and ships books to students of all ages in Africa. It accepts soft and hard cover books that are 15 years or newer, or reference books published in 2005 or later.
- Better World Books collects and sells books online to donate books and fund literacy initiatives. Find a drop box near you here.
Collectibles and Miscellaneous Items
These items can be difficult to let go of. We get it! Especially if they were handed down from a family member or they remind you of your childhood. However, if you’re looking to find a good home to an old instrument, a coin collection or old train set, chances are, there is an organization or individual who would love to have it. Often, finding the right home comes down to having patience and a little creativity. Our move managers have developed a long resource list over the years, and we have some tips for helping you find the right home for your most obscure items:
- Spread the word. Let friends, family and your “social network” circles know what you are trying to donate.
- Search the internet. This should give you a few leads, and from there, you can make a few phone calls to find the right person.
- Call local experts. If, for example, you’re looking to donate an old violin, call your local violin repair or rental shop. They might just have the contact you’re looking for.
Lastly, because we have the utmost respect for our clients’ belongings, we screen every organization we donate to—and we encourage you to do the same as you declutter and donate on your own! Charity Navigator is a wonderful tool to help evaluate large national charities. And of course, if you find yourself short on time and resources, a move manager can help expedite the process and help you complete your decluttering process.