Those charities that want clothes.

We get calls all the time, some from a charity called, I think “Retarded Children” that want used clothes. There are others.

Are these things legit, or are they shipping my old levis to Prague and charging $40 for them?

If legit, where do these clothes go? Who distributes them, etc.

There’s an article about it here. Essentially, nobody’s pulling a scam, but there’s a lot of hard-nosed business deals along the way.

If you want to be sure of how your old clothes are being used, you can always give them to the local Goodwill, which sells them of course, but in order to fund their various programs for the handicapped.

If you’re looking for the clothes themselves to go to someone in need, many organizations (though primarily churches, IME) have “clothes closets” where they store (clean) donated clothes and allow those in need to walk through and take items that would benefit them at no charge. Of course, access to the clothes is typically restricted to those who are already involved with the organization, so that would be something to consider.

If you’re unsure about the legitimacy of a particular organization, you can easily find one which is legit to donate your clothes, be it a local one that you can investigate by yourself or a well-known one.

The only one I’m somewhat familiar with is a local red cross, for instance. They would sort out the cloths, sell the “not in very good condition” ones (and they’re very picky) as rags and create a “wardrobe” with the rest for needy people and families, to whom they hand out the cloths. Another organization (which as believe is only french, but the salvation army does the same in the US, I believe) sells the clothes to the general public and use the money for its charities.

Sure, I can give clothes to the Red Cross, but these folks will take it right off the porch.

I was just wondering if I was freely contributing to someone’s somewhat-legit business in the name of a charity, or what.

We get these scams over here . To make things more complicated many legitimate charities leave plastic bags at houses for collection of old clothes . The scam merchants also leave flyers saying that they will be collecting clothes . These notices are so worded that , unless you really study them ,you can be confused into thinking they are doing it for humanitarian reasons and not for a business. After they collect the stuff it is shipped off to Eastern Europe and sold , not distributed to worthy causes. In the UK all legitimate charities have to be registered with the Charities Commission .Their registration number must appear on any literature. So the best way to check that the operation is not a scam is to look for that number on the flyer. I have even seen these scam merchants going through bags off clothes left out for re-cycling by the local concil waste department .

Here is a local council press release warning of this scam :-

From my experience of Prague, it’s citizens are almost certainly better dressed than you are and are unlikely to want your cast-offs :wink:

No offence intended, but those guys look good!

Since you’re in the US, there are two great resources to use to investigate the legitimacy of a non-profit:

Charity Navigator

I believe Guidestar requires a log-in, but it’s free and spamless. If you don’t want to sign up for it, I’d be more than happy to run any search you want from it. They keep 990 forms for as many of the organizations they can (990s are the tax forms that non-profits have to file with the IRS, and required upon request from the public - in fact, you could call up this “Retarded Children” organization and ask to see a copy of their 990 - if they don’t, they’re in violation.

Although of course it is unethical to pretend to be a charitable cause when you are not, I fail to see why you need to “use caution when donateing unwanted clothes”, as one of these articles suggests.

Even in a totally for-profit thrift store situations, everybody wins.

You get rid of your unwanted clothes with no hassles. A bunch of people get jobs sorting, distributing and selling those clothes. Some most likely poor person gets decent clothing to wear (especially useful in the 'states are suits that are suitable for job interviews) and the environment gets one less thing chucked in a landfill and a little bit less resources used to make clothes.

So if the ultimate proceeds don’t go towards retarded kids, who really cares?

The Salvation Army, Goodwill Industries, and other groups, usually arms of churches or Christian outreach groups, will accept donations of household goods, including clothing, furniture and accessories, kitchenware of all sorts… What they do is to discard, completely, the worthless material and that which by law cannot be resold (e.g., underware, thoughh things like mattresses that are in good shape but legally prohibited from resale will often be given to someone in need), and then place on sale, at a small fraction of the “new” value, whatever is saleable. People on extremely low income can pick up goods they need at a price they can afford. For example, a person subsisting on disability with a nine-year-old son may only be able to afford two or three new outfits for school and other “dress” occasions a year – but that kid also needs play clothes and such, and $2 for used kids’ jeans or 50 cents for a sturdy used pullover shirt is affordable.

Sometimes folks who can afford better shop such stores for the unusual, being a bargain hunter’s paradise. Barb and I were making over $40,000 a year back in the 1980s – but I certainly could not have afforded to buy her, new, the beautiful fur coat I picked up for $10, and which she wore for several years on appropriate dress occasions.

Whether it be solicitations for used clothing, money, or used merchandise KNOW the CHARITY ORGANIZATION!

Typically requests by mail are money mills with a pittance going to the alleged sponsor and the balance to printing, postage, and labor to conduct the operation.

All requests for money or goods are relegated to the trash bin unless I know who and what they are and do.

A local charity known for helping the homless takes anything and everything offered.
I found a chest freezer in my father’s house after his death. The fuse had blown, the meat had thawed and putrified. The charity was called, told of the condition, and replied that they would take care of it! Which they did the next day.

I generally directly donate my used/unwanted clothes to the womens shelter for homeless and battered womed (SafeNest).
I recently bought a new dryer because the old one was “going out” - It sounded like I was drying lowads of bricks. I didn’t want to send it to the dump because it still worked, it was just noisy. I called around and none of the charities took large appliances except for Big Brothers, Big Sisters. Here in Vegas, they have volunteers that fix them up so they run well and are clean and they are given to those in need or they are sold and all of the money goes to the charity. I felt better than just sending it to the dump.

The Purple Heart and AmVets are two legit groups that my mother used to leave stuff out for all the time. You could call them if you’re interested in helping.

On a more personal note… a local group is ACTC (Assitance Center of Towson Churches), although I think you might have to take the stuff to them. They distribute it to local shelters in the city (clothes, furniture, non-perishable food, whatever). My church is involved with this group and they do a lot of good.

I agree with even sven. Goodwill or Salvation Army may be better charities, but if you’re not the type to get around to dropping the stuff off at these places, it’s better to donate them to a “for profit” store than to put it all in garbage bags and throw them in the trash.

Now, as a public service announcement™, I’m gonna do a little hijack and get up on a soapbox: Please, folks, don’t give torn up, junked up clothes to the Goodwill. It’s my understanding that they have to spend lots of money each year, disposing of clothes that should have gone in the trash in the first place! The Salvation Army, OTOH, apparently keeps these really messed up clothes and sells them as industrial rags. However, some folks prefer not to deal with SA because of their religious affiliations.

As I recollect from articles that I read clothes collected by charities in Germany are sorted and partly given out/sold cheaply by local charities to people who cannot afford normal prices, and partly (the larger part) sold, winding up mostly in Africa. It seems this works like in Britain (see the article the GorillaMan linked to.)

One point about that: clothes being sold in bulk by the charity does not necessarily mean the collection is a scam - they just convert clothes to money and use the money for their work.

If they use that $40 for charitable purposes, I’d say they’re very good at raising money for whatever charity. It’s certainly better than selling the pants for $2 locally.

But, you just need to be sure they’re legit.