Where Can I Donate Used Toys?

How to Find a New Home for Your Child's Old Toys

Kids donating toys
Getty Images / Artpipi

As parents we spend lots of money and countless hours searching for the best toys for our children, especially for their birthdays and during the holidays. Lots of toys hold memories. 

We remember the 15 stores we drove to in order to find one. We can not forget the look on our child's face as they opened it, screaming in excitement, saying, "This is the best day ever!"

When it comes time to donating toys, it is emotional for everyone.

It just seems so wasteful to throw good things away.

I have frequently asked myself this question. "Where can I donate used toys so that I can bring smiles and happiness to others?

Donating used toys is harder than you think.

When you start researching where to donate, you might find that most places want new toys in their packaging, so what do you do?

Before you can even donate it, here are some tips to help you decide.

Are You Sure You Really Want to Donate It?

Some classic toys like dollhousestrain sets, wooden toys and ride-on toys will stand the test of time and can be saved and passed on from generation to generation, but consider this, if and only if you have the space.

First Check For Recalls

Many toys have been recalled by the CPSC, a government agency, due to choking hazards or risk of injuries. These toys are not safe. Do not donate recalled toys. Take them away from your children immediately and follow the recall instructions to determine whether there is a refund, replacement kit or new product available.

Here are lists of toy recalls.

Clean Your Toys and Inspect Battery Compartments

After you inspect each toy for safety, clean your toys. Stuffed animals can be washed in special laundry bags, other baby toys and preschool toys can be washed with soap and water or disinfectant wipes. Check battery compartments for any rechargeable batteries, old batteries and corrosion.

Remove old batteries and if you can install or include new ones.

Now that you are ready to donate, here are some organizations who might be thrilled to receive your used toys.

Friends and Family Members 

Do you have a niece, nephew, neighbor or family friend who might want your old toys? Send an email, text or make a phone call and ask. Do not just show up to a friend's house with a trunk full of toys and transfer your junk and clutter onto someone else, especially someone you care about.

If you pass it on, leave the memories in your photo album or camera roll. Do not get resentful or mad if they say no or if they do not care for the toy the way you would have. Do not be surprised if they take the item and donate it to someone else, or even resell it.

Use Facebook

Use your Facebook status to reach out to friends and acquaintances you have not spoken to in a while and let them know you have toys you are trying to donate for free.

Within Facebook you can also search for your local community Online Yard Sale Group and list your toy items there.

Please exercise caution before inviting strangers into your home and use these tips to safely sell used toys.

Locate Individuals, Centers or Social Service Agencies in Your Community

Make phone calls first and check agency websites to confirm toy donation policies before you arrive with toys. Over time agencies change their policies and organizations may no longer able to take your used donations.

  • Childcare centers, preschools, and churches may be in need of baby items, ride-on toys, games, play kitchens and outdoor toys for play areas.
  • Public school systems typically enjoy gently used  board games, LEGO's, and extra arts and crafts activities to keep kids entertained during indoor recess times and during after school activities or special clubs.
  • Second Chance Toys can help provide you with a charitable in your area that is taking donations. If there is not a location in your area, if you have over 50 gently used plastic toys, they will help you to arrange a drop-off location. 
  • Local homeless shelters may take small toys to give to children or have play areas within them to entertain children.

For those who have new toys, here's more information on how to donate to the Toys for Tots program.