Does it seem like your children’s plush animals have multiplied overnight? Toy boxes and bin over-flowing? After holidays, birthdays, and too much time indoors, the number of toys can become overwhelming. With Spring here and Earth Day right around the corner, we wanted to provide some great ideas for donating your used toys so they can be reused and loved by other children. Toy donation is not just about getting rid of “stuff.” As our children get older, they outgrow toys, and some things might not be as engaging or stimulating as they once were a year ago. Teaching our children to donate gently used items shows our kids they are a part of a larger community around them, as well as compassion.
Before you read on and get ready to sort through all those toys, there are a few guidelines to remember before donation:
- Gently used; don’t donate items that are broken or heavily soiled
- Don’t give games, puzzles, or toys with missing pieces or parts
- Donations should not be gift wrapped unless stated otherwise
- Never donate anything that has been recalled; please contact the manufacturer
- Research hygiene guidelines for donations, for example, some hospitals will only take new toys, or policies may be recently updated or have changed due to the pandemic
- Avoid donating baby items, such as pacifiers, bottles, or car seats
The list below is just a recommended list. Please double-check with the sites in your area for specific guidelines, recommendations, or updates. Now, let’s get donating!
Charities are often a go-to on our donation list. Charities will usually take your donations and give you a donation receipt to tuck away and use at tax time.
- Goodwill and Salvation Army will take most toys and resell them in their thrift stores. Proceeds from the sales go back into programs that benefit the community.
- Ronald McDonald House provides support for families who have children with ongoing medical needs. Frequently, they need toys for siblings to play with while a family member is receiving care. Call your local Ronald McDonald house chapter to see if they are taking donations or if they have a wish list.
- SAFE,Stuffed Animals For Emergencies. SAFE is a volunteer-run non-profit that takes donations of new and gently used stuffed animals, blankets, books, children’s clothes, and baby items for children in emotional or traumatic situations.
Hasbro Toy Recycling Program
Give your well-loved toys second life by recycling them.Hasbro’s toy recycling program is free and easy with no drop-off; you make a request and ship your items. Make sure to check the restrictions and guidelines of what is accepted. Once items are collected, the toys and games are separated by composition (plastics, metals, organics) and processed into raw materials. These materials are then used to make new recycled products. The website even offers a link where you and your child can learn more about the recycling process.
Some community groups, non-profits, Lions Club, and Lioness will collect items throughout the year for local Santa shops where children and families can come “shop” for free for family members for the holidays. Google Santa shops or Toy Shelves in your community to find a local chapter and guidelines. The Santa shops are often in need of volunteers as well!
Many shelters across the nation will gladly accept donations of used toys. Keep in mind you can also donate a variety of other items like clothes, shoes, jackets, and toiletries are always a need. You can find a local shelter in your area using theHomeless Shelter Directory. The listings will take you to a website you can browse for specific needs, or you can also call the shelter to find out what items they might be in condition of.
School and Daycare Centers
Many early childhood programs and schools may need specific items. Many school daycare and aftercare programs toys are used so often they will gladly take donations, especially ride-on toys, board games, arts and crafts supplies, and play kitchens. Start by calling Headstart in your area. Headstart is a school readiness program that provides free development and learning services for children birth-5 from low-income families.
Some libraries love getting used toy donations! Usually, these toys are for younger children 0-5. Toys are collected for children to play with during programming or for toy lending libraries. Libraries do have strict guidelines to what you can donate, usually non-toxic, like-new, and a preference for toys that encourage learning and development. Check with your local library to see if they require donations. If not, consider checking with a larger city near you; chances are they will be having a toy collection day soon!
Local Options for Donation or Resell
- Keep your donation options local by posting on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. If you want to get rid of some toys, quickly post a couple of pictures on your profile and see if you have any takers. Don’t forget Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, Foster parents, and caregivers might always be looking for some fun new toys at their house.
- You can sell or donate toys in bundles or separately in your area. You can also checkFreecycle; a grassroots non-profit made up of groups of people giving (and getting) free things in their area.
- Take your gently used toys to a children’s thrift shop. You can drop your items off, and they will go through the articles, decide what they will buy from you and offer you cash for the toys, or give you store credit to use to purchase other items in the store.
Now you know there are many unique options for toy donation! Donating toys gives other children the opportunity to learn and grow while teaching our children the importance of charity no matter their income or age.