With daily deliveries and packages piling up beneath the Christmas 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. Keep reading 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. Plush animals are 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. Most places will give you a tax deduction for your donation, so ask for a receipt!
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, box springs or major appliances.
Find a donation center here.
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: crib mattresses (accepted as space allows), maternity clothes, small toys and books, exer-saucers, play gyms, infant swings, pack 'n' plays, strollers, changing tables, Boppy pillows, smaller outdoor toys (April-Sept. only), cleaned car seats manufactured in the last five years from today’s date. Check their website for the complete list of items.
Most needed items: baby cereal, new toys for two-year-olds, winter clothes (especially pants for boys and girls, sizes 5-14), used laptops, hats and gloves (age 5 & up), safety items (door handle covers, outlet covers, etc.), hygiene such as shampoo, diaper cream, conditioner and deodorant, sippy cups and diapers in size 5 and 6 and Pull-ups in size 4T/5T. Other needed items include LEGOs, shoes, full, queen and king bedding (sheets and comforters), rain coats in sizes 5T-10, nursing pads, bassinets, pack n' plays (manufactured after February 19, 2014) and full size and double strollers.
Note: EBC does not accept household appliances, tools, broken or damaged toys, adult clothing (other than maternity) and other goods not specifically for kids birth to age 14. EBC also does not accept used car seats at any of its remote drop-off sites; used car seats are accepted only at EBC Hubs and must be manufactured five years or less from the donation date. Due to space constraints, EBC cannot accept furniture, other than cribs, toddler beds, changing tables and toddler tables and chairs, high chairs, drop-side cribs, cribs manufactured prior to 8 years from today's date, large outdoor basketball hoops, art desks, tool benches, stuffed animals longer than 12 inches, large easels, train tables, walkers with wheels, electric breast pumps, used nipples and pacifiers, outdoor toys, ski boos, skis or snowbords.
1510 N.W. Maple St.
Issaquah, WA 98027
View all drop times and locations here.
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.
Current needs: Toddler girl and boy hoodies and light weight jackets (2T-5T), toddler girl & boy jeans (2T-5T), child girl and boy uniforms (6-20), child girl and boy jeans (6-20), child girl and boy long-sleeved shirts (6-20), boys' hoodies (S-M) and boys' graphic tees (all sizes).
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.
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 2017, they served 38,000 children with three million in items). Participate in Westside Baby's 2019 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 (full size and portable), toddler beds, high chairs, booster seats, bouncy seats, excersaucers, Bumbo seats, potty chairs, baby bathtubs (no bath seats), 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.
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.
7272 W. Marginal Way S.
Seattle, WA 98108
To view their drop off locations, click here.
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. Mary's Place is also in need of pain relievers (Ibuprofen, aspirin), cough drops, topical antibiotic ointments and alcohol wipes. Note: The organization does not accept out-of-season clothing, appliances, breast pumps, electronics, used car seats, appliances, computers, televisions, furniture (of any kind), cribs, jogging strollers, medical equipment, exercise equipment, baby bouncers, swings, potty chairs or hardback books.
Items with a high need: Maternity clothes, twin sheets and blankets, new underwear (all sizes and genders), stroller covers, hair brushes and towels. 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. (Hub/Admin Offices)
Seattle, WA 98109
Donation hours: Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
View collection site info 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 grief-support for adults, children and families as well as a day camp in the summer. The organization offers a unique, long-term, multi-faceted approach to grief support, combining group support with informal events and social networks.
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 email@example.com 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
Editor’s Note: 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