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Don't Throw That Away — Without Reading this First!

Here are 10 things you might not have known you could donate — so you can declutter while giving your items a chance to do good.

Sarah Burns · 2 months ago



Brimming closets, overstuffed drawers, and cabinets so packed that opening one will incite an avalanche. Where the heck does all this stuff even come from? It’s tempting to grab a bag and start trashing, but with minimal effort, decluttering is optimal for organizing donations! Still-useful items won’t wind up in landfills, and knowing things you once loved won’t be going to waste — and could potentially be of real use to someone else — can make it a lot easier to let things go. 

So before you throw, check to see if you have:

Greeting Cards



We stand there way too long, comparing generic but heartfelt words to find the right combo that will best describe our feelings, or we just grab whatever seems the least obnoxious, and get outta there. When it comes to greeting cards, there is no in-between. They add up quickly, and while some people have no problem decluttering without a second thought, those of us hanging out in the card aisle too long tend to feel bad about throwing them away. 

Fortunately, we don’t have to. Collect those used cards and send them to St. Jude’s Ranch; they replace the backs of these donations to create “new” cards, which are sold in ten-packs around the holidays as part of their card recycling program. The proceeds are used to raise money to help youth out of homelessness, abusive situations, and provide real-world work experience and training for teens.

Art Supplies



You were so jazzed to try out that new hobby, but in your fervor, you managed to wipe out the mile-long impulse item section at your local Michael’s. Now you’re sitting in the aftermath of a Tasmanian Devil-like flurry of arts and craft supplies — some used, some you’ll probably never open, and some you just have one too many of. 

First, take inventory of what you want to let go, and reach out to local schools, daycares, and libraries, all of which are usually looking for certain things like watercolor paper, markers, and coloring supplies. For the more oddball stuff, check out organizations like NYC-based Materials for the Arts which just introduced a curb-side pickup for locals, and Chicago’s The Waste Shed to connect with artists interested in creating with sustainable materials, and repurposing the unconventional.




Maybe you’ve decided that last season’s colors are, well, so last season, or maybe you’ve discovered you’ve managed to buy the exact same color in five different brands. Either way you’re looking to let some makeup go, and tossing it in the trash feels like such a waste — because it is.

You’re probably thinking, but what about the germs? And you’re totally right. So use common sense when weeding out those donation options; that lipstick down to a little nub is not a good contender, but that blush you used only twice because you thought it made you look like an orange? Swipe some rubbing alcohol over that baby, and contact your local women's shelters for their donation guidelines and how to drop off. If nothing local pans out, head to Project Beauty Share, and ship off what you don’t need to someone who does!

Stuffed Animals



They’re our friends, cuddle buddies, and confidantes...but sometimes we just have a few too many. So put a stuffed pal in the arms of a kid who really needs one, and send your like-new and gently-loved plushies and stuffed animals to Stuffed Animals for Emergencies. This entirely volunteer-run organization has been around for over two decades, helping provide comfort to kids in need. They also accept books, kids' clothing, and baby items. Everything donated is sorted thoroughly, cleaned with care, and never resold; it all goes directly to families in need.

Magazines and Comic Books



Reading material never goes bad; so as long as it’s not ripped up or stained, you can pass those pages on! Mag Literacy is a volunteer-led group that works with literacy programs to combat illiteracy through empowering at-risk readers. They provide reading materials for all ages to shelters, food pantries, youth mentorship programs, and similar outreach organizations. Donating is super easy — just fill out their online intake form with what you’d like to donate, and they’ll send you the shipping or drop-off address. Helpful shipping tips are also available, so you can get your reading materials on their way to be enjoyed all over again.

Cell Phones



Remember when you two first got together? How you waited for them for months, and how shiny, new, and exciting everything seemed when you were finally so close? Months later, the shine has worn away, and after several drops and spills, the cell phone you once pined for is a little the worse for wear.

When it’s time to part ways with your device, skip the recycling programs, and consider donating it to the 911 Cell Phone Bank. They work with police departments, hospitals, and educators at the local level to get cell phones into the hands of those in high-risk, underprivileged situations all over the country. They’ll even provide a shipping label, so this donation is totally free; just pack it, print it, drop it in the mail, and maybe wish your old phone the best before parting ways.

Eye Glasses



Regular glasses-wearers usually have an old pair or two laying around as backup, but wearing a prescription that’s too old can cause headaches, nausea, and a host of other health hazards. Send those superfluous specs to One Sight — they use their facility to sort donated eyewear and send the vetted ones to local Lions Club organizations which connect with low and middle-income communities without access to reliable eye care. You can ship at your convenience, but One Sight also works with a variety of vision retailers to collect donations, so bring them along on your next trip to LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, or Target Optical. 




They’re not the worst, but they’re also not the sharpest in the shed anymore, and you’re thinking about whittling them down. Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore will take your gently used tools and building materials off your hands, and make sure whatever life they have left in them will do the most good for the most families. 

Now that you’ve cleared out space from getting rid of some things, it’s time to rebuild! Budget smarter for your next home improvement project, and head to a Restore Location for new and used items well below retail price. You’ll be getting a great deal while you support a charitable cause! 

Do an Act of Kindness in Your Community with the CAMP + Ally Toy Vault

Embrace the spirit of giving and giving back to your community this season! Come to CAMP stores or visit the Toy Vault online in the month of December 2021 to donate a gift to families in need.