The end of the holiday season implies the end of the season of giving, but in fact the holidays tend to overflow our homes with an abundance of new clothes, toys, electronics, and all other gizmos and gadgets, so perhaps we have more to give now than we did at Thanksgiving. And after all, what better New Year’s resolution can we make than to donate from our abundance to families (South Asian or otherwise) that are struggling to have enough? Often I come across moms who want to donate their old clothes or toys to people who can really use them but they don’t know to which charities to donate. Most charities accept monetary donations and donations of brand new items, and of course that’s a wonderful way to donate too, but there are many people living locally who can benefit from receiving used clothes, shoes, and toys that are still in good condition. And if you’re anything like me, you’ve been hording an overwhelming amount of clothing in your closet for, well, decades, and while I am still wearing some of those tee shirts ten years later (I probably shouldn’t be admitting that), much of that perfectly-good clothing is just hanging there, gathering dust. And if your kids are anything like mine, they outgrow their clothes at warp speed and/or just plain refuse to wear any number of lovely articles of clothing from which I’ve already yanked the tags.
Goodwill and Salvation Army stores are ubiquitous and make it easy to drop off your donations and collect your tax receipt, BUT, much of what you donate won’t actually go directly to people in need. According to ABC News and The Huffington Post, a very small percentage of donated items that are in near-perfect condition get sold in the stores and the profits fund both administrative costs (e.g., overhead and salaries) and charitable programs. Much of the rest of it is sold to textile processing companies which in turn recycle the clothes into cleaning rags or insulation, or they ship countless bales of clothing overseas where it’s sold, not donated, to people. I’m oversimplifying the process but my point is that many of the clothes you donate will then get sold and sold again by third-party groups that are making profits off of your donations. I didn’t want that, so I researched local nonprofits that claim to actually give the clothes to people who need the clothes. Here are really good options I found:
1. PTA CLOTHES CLOSET - Leander and Round Rock ISD, TX
The PTAs of both Leander ISD and Round Rock ISD accept donations of gently-used clothes and shoes (clean and in good condition) and brand new underwear for kids from pre-K through high school (4-18 yrs). All donations go directly to students who qualify for the program, most of whom also qualify for the free and reduced lunch program. I love donating to these programs because the children in need are so close to home; they live in our communities and could be friends with our children. Review their web sites for a list of immediate needs as well as everything they accept regularly.
2. SAFE Alliance – Austin, TX
SAFE Alliance is a haven for local women, men, and children who have suffered sexual and/or domestic violence. The shelter offers temporary housing for victims who have fled abusive environments as well as a 24-hour hotline, counseling, and other support services. The nonprofit also partners with other charitable organizations to do good work in the community. SAFE Alliance gratefully accepts all kinds of donations and posts a wish list on its web site. Again, all of your donations go directly to victims, many of whom have fled their homes without any belongings. You can drop off donations at their warehouse during posted hours or make an appointment to drop off at your convenience.
(Updated as of June 2017 on blog to reflect new information for what was previously known as Safeplace. SAFE is a merger of Austin Children’s Shelter and SafePlace, both long-standing and respected human service agencies that provide services for those experiencing sexual assault and exploitation, child abuse, and domestic violence. SAFE’s goal is ambitious and simple: stop abuse for everyone.)
3. ANY BABY CAN – Austin, TX
Any Baby Can is a local nonprofit that is committed to the belief that all babies deserve to be born into happy and healthy families and environments. It offers a variety of programs for expectant parents, new parents, children with special healthcare needs (including cancer) and children with developmental delays. Any Baby Can also runs community events to raise awareness and engage more locals who have the ability to help, as well as collects donations of all kinds (review their wish list), including gently-used newborn and children’s clothing, children’s books, educational infant and children’s toys, and baby “equipment” (e.g., activity mat, boppy pillows, bumbo seats, pack and plays, high chairs, strollers, etc.). If, like me, you’re shutting down the baby train, you probably have a lot of this stuff sitting around in your house. :)
4. AUSTIN FAIRY GODMOTHER – Austin, TX
Austin Fairy Godmother is dedicated to making sure that every young lady is able to attend a special semi-formal or formal event without having to worry about the financial burden of attending. My boys are only two and five so I have a while before I have to worry about financing Prom :), but I do remember my own frenzy over buying a dress, shoes, stockings, a purse, jewelry…well, the list goes on and on, and then there were also the tickets themselves, the limo (I didn’t actually go in a limo but of course many do), and all other extraneous expenses, all for one night! Seems crazy now, but certainly a rite of passage for many young women. The Austin Fairy Godmother boutiques offers rentals on dresses and all accompanying accessories at affordable prices as well as other mentoring and community programs for young women. They collect donations of gently-used formal dresses, heels, jewelry, and all accessories, and you can feel good about knowing that your donations will enable many young women to feel like princesses at their balls. :)
5. DRESS FOR SUCCESS – Austin, TX
Dress for Success has the truly vital and wonderful objective of providing underprivileged women with professional attire in which to attend job interviews. Clothes do not make the (wo)man, but appropriate professional attire certainly can inspire confidence in both the job-seeker and the employer, and Dress For Success also offers other programs that continue to provide job-seekers with support during their interviewing process and beginning stage of employment. The nonprofit accepts donations of a variety of business casual and formal attire but it does have specific criteria for clothing accepted and not accepted so be sure to review the web site.
Happy donating, SAAM Moms! I know that it can feel like a hassle to take time out to drive around town(s) dropping of all of your donations, BUT, it will also feel great to start the year sharing what we have with people who don’t have. Instead of taking our excess for granted, let’s take our excess to members of our community who can’t afford to take anything for granted! Happy New Year!