With daily Amazon deliveries and packages piling up beneath the tree, this season of giving can leave us feeling both grateful and slightly overwhelmed by the abundance in our lives. If you want to create holiday magic for local kids in need and create a little breathing room on your toy shelves, consider donating to one of these outstanding organizations who will give your old toys (and other items) a new life.
photo: Christmas House via flickr
Before you start your post-bedtime stealth purge of the toy bin or (gasp!) before enlisting your own little elves in selecting a few of their treasures to share with a child in need, here are a few tips for donating used toys:
1. Make your donations count by only offering items that are truly “gently used” and in good working order. Almost all organizations will throw away broken, stained or otherwise unusable toys, clothes or other donations, including toys missing any of their parts. St. Vincent de Paul estimates their annual garbage bill at over $60,000 because of unsellable items (like shirts with stains or broken zippers or puzzles with missing pieces). Note: If you have unmatched LEGOs, scroll down for the perfect donation spot.
2. Don’t donate toys or items that have been recalled. (Those drop-side cribs are a no-no, even if it was a gorgeous family heirloom that all your kiddos slept safely in).
3. Put fresh batteries in automated toys (or include a new pack of batteries with your donation).
4. Double check on questionable items like plush animals (frequently not accepted due to allergens) or big ticket items like play furniture or outdoor play equipment (many organizations don’t have room to store these biggies).
5. Don’t forget to ask for a receipt so that you can also get a tax deduction for your donation.
Seattle Goodwill provides job training and education to help individuals overcome barriers to employment. If you want to give a new life to a large variety of items, but don’t want to do a big sort or worry about condition too much, Goodwill is your answer. They accept almost everything (just no mattresses, large home appliances or hazardous items) and have locations all over the city!
What used items to donate: Pretty much everything! Toys, clothes, furniture, books, art supplies, electronics and exercise equipment. No food items, mattresses or major appliances.
Find a donation center here.
photo: Goodwill Industries
St. Vincent de Paul
With thrift stores similar to the Goodwill, St. Vincent de Paul also serves the community by running a food bank, programs for Veterans, basic health assessments, language and social services to the Hispanic community in King County and a case management program and call center to help individuals access social services. Note: St. Vincent de Paul has suspended donation pick-ups indefinitely. As a result, they will not be accepting donation intake calls or scheduling donation pick-ups via their website.
What used items to donate: Toys, furniture, clothing, electronics, household goods, baby gear, etc.
Find a donation center nearest you here.
Eastside Baby Corner
Eastside Baby Corner provides direct assistance to local families challenged by job loss, homelessness, medical crisis and poverty. In 2014, they provided more than 8,000 clothing bags (each with a week’s wardrobe) and more than 1,324 car seats to local families, keeping children safe and families comforted in their time of greatest need. Your donations won’t gather dust here; items are matched to deserving families within a week of the item being requested.
What used items to donate: New toys for ages 0-2, gently used small toys, play gyms, infant swings, excersaucers, infant clothing 0-9 months (especially long-sleeve shirts for boys, 0-6 months), blankets and bedding for twin, full or queen size beds, shoes (especially boys sizes 9-13 and size 3 & 4 adult), disposable diapers in sizes 2, 5, 6 and Pull Ups, clothing for boys (sizes 0-14), pajamas for boys and girls (sizes 4-14), bicycles and helmets and books, especially board books, books for children under 5 years old and Spanish-language story books. EBC is also in need of high chairs, bassinets, portacribs, strollers and toddler beds.
Note: Due to space constraints, Eastside Baby Corner is not accepting cribs, toddler beds, bouncy chairs, bumbo seats, large outdoor toys or infant bath tubs at this time. From April-Sept., they will accept smaller outdoor toys.
1510 N.W. Maple St.
Issaquah, Wa 98027
View all drop times and locations here.
photo: Eastside Baby Corner
Did you know food stamps don’t cover diapers? Westside Baby provides diapers, clothing and other critical items to children and families throughout King County (in 2015, they served 31,000 children). Participate in Westside Baby’s 2016 Joy Drive and help keep more than 2,800 kids safe, warm and dry this holiday season. And consider helping out a new baby by adding a box of new diapers and wipes to your donation.
What used items to donate: Toys, clothing (especially PJs and winter coats) up to size 12, baby equipment, diapers, wipes, diaper cream, new underwear and socks, baby shampoo, lotion, soap, portable cribs, car seats and strollers. They also need shoes (up to youth size 6), formula, books (especially board books), pacifiers, bottles, sippy cups, front carriers and slings, child-size towels and wash cloths and blankets and bedding. If you’ve got baby, toddler or kid equipment collecting dust, Westside Baby will happily take your cribs, toddler beds, high chairs, booster seats, bouncy seats, excersaucers, potty chairs, baby bathtubs, changing tables and diaper pails.
10032 15th Ave. S.W.
Seattle, Wa 98146
View the full list of drop sites here.
photo: Westside Baby
This standout organization’s mission is to “give foster kids a childhood and a future.” Among the myriad of services they provide to youth in the foster care system is an awesome warehouse filled to the brim with new and like-new clothing, shoes, toys, school supplies and books, where the kids can go “shopping” (everything is free) for what they want and need. This is a particularly great choice if along with your toy donation, you have a fashion-conscious tween (or toddler for that matter) who has outgrown their stylish brands. Psst! Take a ride on The DSA Holiday Carousel presented by IKEA through Jan. 2, 2017 and your $3 suggested donation will support Treehouse.
What used items to donate: Toys (very gently used), new and like-new clothing, backpacks, electronics (video games, e-Readers, headphones) and books. View their holiday wish list here.
2100 24th Ave. S., Suite 200
Seattle, Wa 98144
View drop times and a wish list here.
The Northwest Center has created schools and bustling social enterprises which demonstrate the powerful benefit of people of all abilities working together. Your toys will be used in one of their awesome early learning programs where children with and without developmental disabilities learn and play together. With two dozen drop off locations and home pickup available, this organization makes donating super easy.
What used items to donate: Toys (especially board games, LEGOs, action figures, culturally diverse dolls and items for dramatic play like play food and play money), clothing, bicycles, stuffed animals, books, Little Tykes toys, video games and consoles. Northwest Center could also use baby carriages, bedding, children’s clothing including coats and boots and sporting goods.
7272 W. Marginal Way S.
Seattle, Wa 98108
This safe haven provides more than just the tangible needs of food and shelter for homeless women and their children; Mary’s Place also provides a community and a safety net for women looking to rebuild their lives and who want their children to spend time in a safe and caring environment.
What used items to donate: Toys, in-season clothing for men, women and kids (especially teen boys), socks, shoes, underwear, paperback books, strollers, personal hygiene items, diapers, baby formula, bottles, sippy cups, baby soap, diaper rash ointment, foldable pack ‘n plays, small household appliances and items for Mary’s Place kitchen. Note: The organization does accept baby equipment like cribs or high chairs or out-of-season clothing.
1830 9th Ave.
Seattle, Wa 98101
Donation hours: Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-3 pm. at the Emergency Family Shelter at 314 Bell St. in the Belltown neighborhood.
View their wish list here.
photo: Mary’s Place
The Healing Center
As the only drop-in grief support center for youth (ages 4-18) in the area, the Healing Center fills an important gap in supporting kids who’ve experienced loss or trauma. The Healing Center also offers a number of support groups for children, teens and adults as well as a day camp in the summer. Note: If you’re finally ready to give up that Beanie Baby collection, this is one of the only organizations in town specifically requesting plush dolls and stuffed animals.
What items to donate: Plush toys (stuffed animals), action figures and dolls, art supplies of all kinds, books and big ticket items like hockey tables. (Please no toys for pre-school aged children). Please contact Executive Director Cindy Burdell at 206-523-1206 x13 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you think you can help with a donation.
6409 1/2 Roosevelt Way N.E.
Seattle, Wa 98115
The Brick Recycler
If you have a LEGO lover in your life who’s ready to release his or her (millions) of LEGO bricks and figurines, do NOT put them in your normal “donate box.” Organizations like the Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc. will just throw them away if they’re not in a complete set and if you try to recycle them, the city will sort them out and send them to the landfill. Give your LEGOs a new lease on life by sending them to the Brick Recycler. You can ship them your mixed bag of LEGOs (for free if you ship via ground service including UPS Ground, FedEx Ground or USPS Ground) and they’ll sort and pass your bricks along to future builders. What a brick-tastic idea!
photo: Joe Shlabotnik via flickr
Almost all of these organizations also accept (and desperately need) new items as well, from toys and clothes, to food, diapers and hygiene items. If one of these organizations sings to you, check out their website or wish list and consider adding a few new items to your donations as well.
If you would like to donate new toys this holiday season to local kids in need, Toys for Tots has dozens of drop-off locations around the city as well as Sleep Train’s Toy Drive for Foster Kids. And if you’re looking for other ways to get your kids involved in the community, check out our Top 25 List of Ways to Give Back.
Did we miss your favorite non-profit or donation spot for toys and kids’ equipment? Tell us about it in the Comments below!
— Katie Gruver & Kristina Moy