Your unwanted holiday gifts could make some other human very happy.
Before you start rummaging through bags looking for non-existent gift receipts as you pressure overworked cashiers for a store credit, consider instead donating your less-than-cherished holiday items to a worthy place — and no, we’re not talking the Island of Misfit Toys.
COURTESY TOYS FOR TOTS
Speaking of toys, this one is a relative no-brainer with plenty of brand awareness and drop-off locations at many shopping centers and local events. What’s not a no-brainer? The toys typically donated. Often overlooked — and as Toys for Tots supports in their FAQ — are gifts appropriate for older children, especially pre-teens and teens. Sporting equipment, backpacks, even cosmetics and bath/spa gift baskets are welcome additions to the more plentiful presents suitable for younger children. The more of these that are collected even means fewer presents Toys for Tots have to supplement with cash donations, and that lets the organization spread its dollars further.
We recently mentioned that donation chain GreenDrop just opened their first Westchester location in White Plains. The drop-off center accepts worn and unworn clothing, shoes, electronics, and even housewares, much like a Goodwill center. Like Goodwill, GreenDrop then sells the items, but unlike the for-profit alternative, profits from your donations go directly to the charity of your choice: the American Red Cross, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, the National Federation of the Blind, and St. Vincent de Paul. Donations are receipted and tax-deductible, and directly benefit others in need.
Sometimes clothes are beyond saving. Maybe your favorite sweater is a fray away from reverting to a ball of yarn, or maybe you just don’t see yourself every wearing that pink bunny suit your Aunt Clara sent you. Only about 15 percent of textile waste is actually recycled, while as much as 11.5 million tons of the stuff can pile up in landfills over a single year. Most U.S. communities in fact don’t even have textile recycling programs. For the items you couldn’t otherwise donate, consider dropping off any used (or unusable) cloth at one of Green Tree’s “Green Box” locations.
Phones, Tablets, and Other Electronics
This season, a whole lot of people are going to be excitedly unwrapping new tech and (rightfully) freaking out and screaming about it. Maybe you’ll be one of them. Maybe a video of you freaking out will go viral, allowing you to buy an even nicer phone with all the ad revenue you make from monetizing said video. In any event, rather than trading in your old phone now that you have that shiny new iGiga-PiXL with 7G BFG broad spectrum, how about donating it to charity?
Started by then-tween siblings Brittany and Robbie Bergquist in 2004, Cell Phones for Soldiers recycles or refurbishes all models and conditions of mobile phones, tablets, and MP3 players, and uses the funds to buy international calling cards for deployed service members. The much-honored service allows military personnel to stay in contact with their families while overseas, without racking up thousands of dollars in phone bills. You can donate your old electronics by mail, or through most cellular providers, as many — including giants AT&T and Verizon — are program partners.
Women Against Abuse, meanwhile, partners with Hopeline from Verizon to perform a similar service for victims of domestic violence, using the revenue generated from sales of refurbished or reclaimed electronics and components to provide care and even new cellphones to help individuals lead independent lives after trauma.
While we’re discussing who to donate to this season, local charity Love in Action is a group dedicated to helping residents of Westchester and Putnam counties who need temporary assistance following events like job loss, natural disasters, illness, or even the death of a loved one. They accept monetary as well as physical donations, and proceeds of sold items allow the group to help others, going so far as to even may bills directly on behalf of others in need.
Unfortunately, at the tail end of November, the office of Yorktown Love In Action was burglarized, resulting in the loss of the organization’s operating funds. They’re currently collecting funds to help pay their rent and utilities, and try to recoup some of the donations lost to continue helping local residents during this holiday season. Anyone who would like to may donate on their webpage, Facebook, or recent GoFundMe campaign.