Clothing Donation Question

Cheers to everyone for a wonderful holiday season, and a question:

About this time of year I clean out the closets to make room for the inevitable influx of clothing my children get as presents, as well as thin my own horde of things I never wore in the first place. I usually have a pretty sizable load of stuff, and this year it will include coats, shoes, and lots of baby/toddler size clothes.

In the past I have always dropped off the donations at Goodwill, but I recently have been inside a Goodwill to look around and was shocked at how much they charge for their clothing! I am making these donations for people in need, and I believe charging as much as 10.00 for a blouse is unreasonable, IMHO.

So, I would like some suggestions on alternative donation recipients*. I would appreciate some non-religious alternatives, too.

*many of the local charities have a ‘no clothes’ policy and collect only food and toys this time of year, so you can see my need for creative suggestions. These are good clothes, and I would hate to see them end up in the dumpster.


Do you have an AmVets? Our local AmVets undercuts Goodwill significantly on clothes.

The closest one is in Memphis, TN- about a 2.5 hour drive from here.


Look in the yellow pages under “Thrift Stores”. If you have time check them out and see which ones charge the most reasonable prices. The proceeds may not benefit any charity, but still make nice clothes available to those who can’t afford higher prices.

Other ideas

battered womens’ shelter

“Welcome Baby” program (that’s what it’s called here, call local maternity ward to see if anything like that exists in your area, basically support group for new moms, especially disadvantaged ones)

Goodwill is not just supposed to provide cheap clothes for the poor, but to provide jobs for those with disabilities (physical, or mental such as recovering alcoholics) who run the store, repair appliances, etc. Much stuff donated to them must be sorted, cleaned and trashed as too worn, stained or irrepairable.

You could also try the Salvation Army.

The salvation army charges about the same.

But, as has already been said, they don’t distribute the donated clothing to the needy. They sell the donated clothing and use the proceeds to help the needy. Food, housing, drug and alcholol couseling, stuff like that…

Goodwill also provides job training and employment assistance. Most of the people they serve do not work in the stores, but other places, depending on their abilities and the employers’ needs.

I just wanted to clarify - I’m not saying that you have to donate to Goodwill. You can see if there’s a Ladies of Charity near you - this is a Catholic organization that often runs thrift stores. I know the one in my area sells nothing for more than $4. Check your yellow pages and see what’s around - that’s the only way I can think of to find out what’s in the area.

You might try contacting the social services branch of your local government. They might know of a place that exists solely to collect clothing and distribute it, at very low cost, to people who are on public assistance.

We’ve got a store like that - in fact, you’re not even allowed to shop in there if you’re not on some type of welfare. I’d give you the address of our local operation, but it’d be quite a drive for you (Northern Virginia)!

Just reiterating what others have said: profits from donated clothing - in most cases - go to the needy, not the clothing itself. You may have a local homeless shelter or crisis center that will accept and distribute clothing directly to people who need it. Every holiday season the Girl Scouts hereabouts do a clothing and toy drive for the crisis center, which is an emergency shelter for battered women and their children.

Around here, AmVets will pick up if you have more than one “lawn and leaf” sized garbage bag full of clothing to donate. So will the Cancer Society.

You do want to stay away from consignment stores, though. They are not charities; they sell your used clothing for you and return a portion of the money to you BUT - I know of at least one instance where someone mistakenly dropped off a donation to a consignment store and the store personnel accepted her donation and did not correct her belief that it was a charity. Also be cautious about “drop-boxes” if they’re not clearly marked with the name of a charity you recognize. There’s a couple of companies that are for-profit resale stores and they have discovered that they can collect quite a lot of free stuff to resell this way!

And last but not least - if you’re up to carefully sorting your stuff, there are a number of charitable organizations that are looking for SPECIFIC items. Foster care agencies are often looking for donations of luggage, tote bags and such, so the children they need to place don’t have to carry their things in paper grocery bags. Some cancer-related charities need donations of hats, scarves and wigs. There’s one charity that distributes business-appropriate women’s clothing to women entering the work force. There’s another that accepts prom dresses and formalwear to distribute to needy girls (I think that one is called “Cinderella’s Closet”).

Vietnam Veterans of America (800-775-VETS) gets a lot of donations from me, because, a) I donate to Veterans’ groups, and, b) they pick up, and I don’t have a car.

This may sound strange, but if you can’t fnd a good charity to take them, see if your local museum wants them.

I work in a museum. Folks donate great-grandma’s wedding dress, but never donate modern clothing. They don’t seem to realize it wil be antique one day.

Add to this our modern throw-away culture, and I think that museum-goers a hundred years from now are going to see a big gap in our collections.

How about taking it to a homeless shelter for women and children?

First, thank you for the information on Goodwill. I feel much better about my past donations to their organization now. I guess one of my human failings is that I don’t research such organizations more carefully, but that is changing. :slight_smile:

I know there is a women’s shelter in Little Rock, and I also plan to contact the number Eve gave me to see if there is someplace local for a dropoff (I doubt they’d pick up from me since I am pretty far out from any metropolitan area). I think I may also contact Arkansas Children’s Hospital to see if they would have a use for all these baby clothes and blankets.

Thanks again for the info, folks!


There’s also Dress For Success, a worthy charity that accepts gently-used, interview-appropriate ladies clothing for low-income women who are trying to enter the work force. They have affiliates in most U.S. states, New Zealand, England, and Canada.

For the record, I work in a consignment store, and we have people bring us donations occasionally. No matter how many times I try to explain that we’re not a charity, they still leave them with us. In general, I put it promptly in our donation pile and take it with me on my weekly run to the Salvation Army. So we’re not all greedy jerks, I swear!

Also, and I don’t know how it is in your area, but it seems like every store up here, whether it’s consignment or charity, has been totally swamped with clothing. So it’s a good idea to call in advance, no matter where you’re taking your things. And if they can’t take it, please be patient. We all run out of room for things occasionally.

I work in a consignment store as well, and we will accept donations to the local women’s shelter. Items we take for sale that don’t sell are sent to the women’s shelter already, so it’s easy for them to pick up an extra bag or two.

As an FYI, those little cosmetic samples and purses and things that seem to collect around many houses are also great items for a women’s shelter. Some women have to leave their current circumstances with only the clothes on their back - a bit of makeup can be a nice pick me up.

Try the YWCA or local homeless shelters. Also, if you have a low-income clinic in your area, they might be able to take clothing for some of their patients. Mine does.

Also consider giving travel sized shampoo, toothpaste and soap. If you want to and can afford it, feminine products and baby diapers are always needed too.