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Donating Your Old Clothes

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD

Seasons are changing and your clothes from last year may not fit. If you notice clothes piling up in your family's closets — and you're looking for a way to help the less fortunate — donating clothes could be a super-easy start.

Gather your family and begin sifting through those crammed closets. As you work, keep these organization basics in mind:

  • Keep an open mind and let go. If you haven't worn something in a year or two, chances are you won't miss it.
  • Set a target. Maybe for every two items you keep, you give up one. When you buy something new, go through your closet to see if you can donate something else.
  • Don't just stop with clothing. Since you're in the giving mood, expand your donation. Go through your old books, jewelry, purses, sports gear, etc. — maybe you'll find something that someone else will love just as much as you did.
  • Be a courteous donor. Throw away clothes with stains, tears, or holes. Save your ratty jeans and shirts for cleaning work around the house or yard work.
  • Look past resale or consignment shops. Centers like Goodwill are great for donating, but plenty of other organizations could use your things, too. Try places like women's and children's shelters or maybe organizations that help teen mothers, migrant workers' families, or people displaced by fires or natural disasters. Some places accept homecoming and prom dresses and give them to students who can't afford to buy them.
  • Call ahead. Not every organization or shelter accepts "gently used" clothes. Many will only take new items, so do your research first to avoid a wasted trip.

Doing good can be contagious. You might decide to keep the spirit of giving going year round — not just during the holidays. Look for other opportunities to help out on your own or as a family. Each season should be full of thanks and giving.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: September 2014