With daily 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 a little holiday magic for local kids in need and some breathing room in your kids’ rooms, consider donating to one of these outstanding organizations who will give your old toys (and other items) a new life. Read on to learn more.
Before you start your post-nap time 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, box springs, large home appliances or hazardous or recalled 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 does offer a furniture donation pick up system. Make sure your items are in sellable condition—no rips, tears, stains or big scratches, then take photos of furniture items to be donated and send them to St. Vincent along with a Furniture Donation Pickup Donation Form. St. Vincent will review your photos and get back to you within 24-48 hours.
What used items to donate: Toys, furniture, clothing, electronics, household goods, baby gear, etc. They will not accept anything that is torn, ripped, stained, broken or worn out. And they do not accept mattresses, desks, appliances, entertainment centers of any size, large household appliances or cribs, play pens, high-chairs, car seats, changing tables or safety gates due to safety regulations.
St. Vincent de Paul has six drop-off locations. 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. Each year they provide 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 newborn, 5 and Pull Ups, infant boy (sizes 0-9 months), pajamas for boys and girls (sizes 4-14), bicycles, 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, strollers, XL maternity clothing. Check their website for the complete list of items.
Most needed items: Size 4, 5, 6 diapers, size 4T-5T pull-ups, baby food, infant footed sleepers and newborn sleep sack, twin bedding (sheets and/or blankets), large—2XL maternity clothing (sizes 12 and above), shoes (boys, sizes 9-13 and size 3 & 4 adult), clothing for boys (sizes 5-14), size 5 boy pants, boy’s pajamas (sizes 3T, 5T, 7, 12 & 14), girl’s pajamas (sizes 3-14 and dental care (single pack toothbrushes).
Note: Due to space constraints, they cannot accept drop-side cribs, toddler beds, stuffed animals longer than 12 inches, train tables, walkers with wheels, large outdoor toys, tool benches, large easels and children’s clothing larger than size 14. From April-Sept., they will accept small 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 2016, they served 38,000 children with three million in items). Participate in Westside Baby’s 2018 Joy Drive and help keep more than 3,000 kids safe, warm and dry this holiday season. Psst..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 up to size 12 (especially PJs, winter coats and new socks and underwear), baby equipment, car seats (view requirements here) diapers, wipes, diaper cream, 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. Click here to view a list of their most needed items. Click here for the full list of accepted items.
10002 14th Ave. S.W.
Seattle, WA 98146
View the full list of collection 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 Treehouse provides 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.
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 wish list here.
2100 24th Ave. S., Suite 200
Seattle, WA 98144
Drop-off Hours: Tues.-Fri., 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
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. Donations of clothing and vehicles (including cars, trucks and motorcycles) are a primary source of income for Northwest Center. The more they can collect, the more support they can provide for their programs. They cannot accept flammable products, large appliances, automobile parts, food, mattresses, box springs and sofas.
Good to know: If you’d like to schedule a pickup date, head to their website and enter your zip code to get started. To view their drop off locations, click here. View their list of acceptable items here.
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 and items for Mary’s Place kitchen. Note: The organization does not accept out-of-season clothing, appliances, breast pumps, electronics, used car seats, appliances, computers, televisions, furniture (of any kind) or hardback books.
Items with a high need: Maternity clothes, twin blankets, new underwear (all sizes and genders), baby formula and stroller covers. View the complete list here.
9 S. Nevada St. (SODO)
Seattle, WA 98134
Donation hours: Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-3 p..m
1155 N. 130th St. (North Seattle)
Seattle, WA 98133
Donation hours: Mon.-Sun., 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
113 Dexter Ave N.
Seattle, WA 98109
Donation hours: Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
View their wish list here.
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.
Children’s programming supplies needed: Crayons, markers, colored pencil, coloring books, notebooks, board games, sketch book, play-doh, model magic, beading supplies, watercolor supplies, washable kid’s paint, construction paper, plain white paper and stickers.
Household supplies needed: furniture (couches and chairs), lamps, side tables, office chairs and office desks.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you think you can help.
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 and FedEx Ground) and they’ll sort and pass your bricks along to future builders. What a brick-tastic idea!
Address shipments to:
Brick Recycler c/o Guaranteed Express
652 N. King Rd.
San Jose, CA 95133
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.
—Kristina Moy & Katie Gruver