There will come a time (even several) when your little ones will grow, and their toys will not be as interesting anymore. So what do you do? If the toys are in good condition, you can donate them for other children to enjoy. Several organizations accept toy donations, as long as they are in decent shape. We will talk about them as well as what kinds of items are eligible.
Why Should You Donate Old Toys?
If you are wondering why you should take the time out of your day to donate old toys (or make any donations in general), here are several reasons that you should consider.
To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
It’s no secret that the human race produces a lot of trash. If you simply throw the toys away, they will end up in a landfill. These growing landfills are harmful to the planet. If you can’t donate toys, check to see if any will be accepted by your local recycling service.
To Help People in Need
Local charities love receiving donations. They often go to low-income families, and their children are always delighted to receive those gifts. Many of these local organizations will have a drop-off location, making it extremely easy to donate toys. You can even reach out to local shelters or fire departments. Sometimes they accept toy donations on behalf of refugees or displaced families due to natural disasters or fires. Many even like to have gently used stuffed animals with them on the job to help comfort children during an emergency. That kind act can truly make someone’s day.
To Gain a Sense of Community
Donating toys to someone from your church or someone you know can bring both you and that person joy. Even if they are used toys, they can be new to someone else. This is especially true if their families are dealing with a hardship.
To Be Kind
Being kind generally makes you feel good. Not every organization accepts gently used toys, so sometimes it can be nice to put your money to a good cause. Buying a new toy that is going to a child or family in need is such a selfless act and making someone else happy is an indescribable feeling.
To Make Room for More
Kids grow at a rapid rate, and that changes what is developmentally appropriate for them as well. Instead of throwing out toys they no longer have an interest in, it is worth looking into donating them instead. Sending those toys to a new home can also be a good way to teach your kids about kindness—and gratitude.
Where to Donate Toys?
Here is a list of places that accept donations of old toys, children’s clothes, sports equipment, unwrapped toys, and more. You’ll notice that many organizations only accept new toys for hygiene reasons, especially many hospitals. We will discuss each option in detail and what type of items they accept.
1. The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army accepts donations for everything from toys to children’s clothes. Contact your local store to see if they are currently taking used toy donations. They will typically have you schedule a time to drop off your items at the store. However, some locations will have someone come by and pick them up for you. Every store is different, so reach out to see what your local Salvation Army Family Store’s policy is.
During the holiday season, this organization donates new toys and clothes to young children in need. If you want to help this cause, you can sign up to make a monthly donation.
2. Ronald McDonald House
If you want to help local families through the Ronald McDonald house, you can do so by contacting your local chapter. The purpose of this organization is to help families stay together when their child is sick. They don’t live near where they need to go to receive treatment. The most requested items are new, unwrapped toys, like puzzles, books, and board games, as well as nonperishable food and personal care items. Even though they don’t accept gently used toys, you can purchase toys to donate instead and still make a huge difference in someone’s life.
3. Local Community Groups
Staying in touch with members of your community will not only give you a sense of togetherness, but it can really help others too. If there are families in your neighborhood who are financially struggling, it may help to donate toys and other things they need. This can also include gently used toys, baby items, household items, food, and whatever else you can think of. Some neighborhoods get together and plan toy swap events, where anyone can stop by who needs toys. You can even start a toy drive and get permission from a local business to set up a drop-off location in their parking lot to accept donations.
4. Daycare Centers
Teachers and daycare providers often pull money from their own pockets to fill their classrooms with supplies and toys. Reach out to your local daycare centers and preschools to see if they need toys. Games, sports equipment, books, puzzles, and other wooden toys could be great for a learning environment for little ones.
5. Marine Toys for Tots
This organization was created in 1991 by the U.S. Marine Corps as a non-profit whose mission is to distribute new toys to children for Christmas. They want to spread joy to those low-income families. There are several ways that you can donate to Toys for Tots. First, they have a virtual toy box on their website. You can purchase toys for a child in need based on age group all from the comfort of your home. The other way is to contact a local campaign and find out where they have a drop-off to donate toys. If there is a toy drive or fundraiser, they can direct you to where you can make a toy donation. Just remember, Toys for Tots only accept new toys.
6. Children’s Hospitals
Children who are spending long stays at hospitals could always use a toy to love and snuggle like stuffed animals. These young patients can be ill or going through treatments for medical conditions. Typically, children’s hospitals will have a page on their website outlining their requirements for donating toys, so you know what they accept and where to bring them. Most hospitals will take only new toys, but you have to check with a specific hospital to find out what their policy is.
7. Placing Online Ads
A great way to plan for donating toys is by reaching out to people in your area on social media. Posting in local Facebook groups can connect you with someone who is looking for toys or other items for their children or someone else that they know. It can be a great way to help a neighbor. Craigslist and Let Go are also excellent websites for posting ads as well. Just make sure to use your best judgment, never give out personal details to strangers, and always meet in a public place.
8. Local Churches
If you are a member of a church, you can check with other churchgoers to see if they know of someone who can benefit from some gently used toys. Your church may also have a thrift store. These stores sell used items at a very low price and are run by volunteers to help people in their community. They typically accept all kinds of items, including books, clothing, electronics, and used toys. As long as what you are bringing in is in good shape, they will most likely take it off your hands.
9. SAFE (Stuffed Animals for Emergencies)
SAFE is completely run by volunteers and can be found in several locations across the United States. Their mission is to provide stuffed animals for children in disaster situations, including traumatic events and emergencies. They accept both new and gently used toys. On their website, you can look up where they are holding toy drives so you can drop off your used or unwrapped toys.
10. Recycling Programs
If you aren’t able to find where to donate toys in your area or if the toys you have are not usable anymore, you can always recycle them. Reach out to your local recycling service to see what items are eligible. Most people choose this option for broken toys rather than just used toys. It’s usually pretty easy to find a spot for used toy donations through a quick internet search.
11. Toy Libraries
Toy libraries are a great way for children to borrow and play with toys at home. It is the same process as borrowing a book with a library card. These organizations collect toys, new and used, and give local children the opportunity to play with them. Look online to find a toy library near you and see if they accept toys as donations.
12. Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity stores in most communities are known as Habitat ReStores. They accept several items, including gently used appliances and even raw materials. Sometimes they will accept used toys as well. Reach out to your local ReStore to see what items they are currently accepting for donation.
13. Second Chance Toys
Second Chance Toys is a wonderful organization that accepts used toys. Their goal is to keep as many toys out of landfills as possible. They operate out of New Jersey and New York City, and their website has a list of drop-off locations. Their only toy requirements are that they are plastic and that they are clean. If you have more than 50 to donate, you can schedule a pickup, and someone will come out to collect the toys from you.
Goodwill is almost always accepting donations and will rarely turn anything away. They accept the widest variety of items, including furniture, clothes, toys, books, shoes, and so much more. It is one of the easiest places to donate gently used toys.
15. Animal Shelters
Sometimes local animal shelters will take in stuffed animals for their furry friends to play with. As long as they don’t have any small parts like beads or other pieces of plastic, they should be fine. Reach out to animal shelters in your area to see if they accept toy donations.
16. Children’s Homes and Shelters
Foster children are often moving to different homes and shelters before they find their forever home. Most will actually accept donations of used toys and other items that the children may need. Also, consider reaching out to a children’s home, homeless shelter, refugee center, or domestic violence shelter in your area to see if they accept toys or if there is anything else they need for the children that live there.
I recently came across this organization, and they seem like a great way to help out charities. They serve other organizations like the American Red Cross. Their website has complete lists of acceptable and non-acceptable items. They do accept gently used clothes, bedding, blankets, tools, and more. You can either find a drop-off location near you in the search bar or schedule a pickup. It’s so easy.
The Bottom Line
The main takeaway from all of this is that toys don’t need to be thrown away if they are in perfectly good condition. There are several places where you can donate them, and if they are plastic, they can likely be recycled. Anything we can do to reduce pollution and our carbon footprint can be so helpful to our environment—especially since items taken to the dump end up in a landfill.
If there is a local organization accepting donations of new toys, then you can take this as a learning opportunity for your child. Donations are an act of kindness. You can teach your child how wonderful it feels to give back to others who are in need, particularly those people who are going through difficult times. After all, you never know exactly what someone else is going through. It is well worth it knowing that you made someone else’s day.