Give your kids' old toys new life while helping other children and decluttering your home at the same time. There are a number of worthy locations just waiting for you to donate toys in good shape to children who will love playing with them. Start with these 10 places to donate your kids' gently-used toys.
Salvation Army and Goodwill are the most recognizable charities where toys are donated.
Just be sure to call your local donation center first because some, but not all, have stopped accepting toy donations.
The toys may go directly to a less fortunate child or they'll be sold in the organization's thrift store. Either way, your child's toys will be helping people in your community. As an extra incentive, donate toys to a qualifying charity or nonprofit to deduct the items on your taxes.
Many medical facilities accept gently used toys for their young patients to play with while they're hospitalized. There are hospitals with toy wish lists posted on their website so you can see their exact toy needs.
Always check with a hospital before you show up with a box of toys, though. Some won't take any items that aren't new because of a risk of illness and infection.
3. Doctors' Offices
Visit a kids' doctor's office, and you're bound to find toys parents have donated. Larger toys can entertain children in the waiting room.
Smaller toys can be used in the doctor's prize bin as rewards for making it through a checkup.
If you're donating books, help your child write a get well message inside the front cover and sign her name. It's a nice way to teach your kids compassion at the same time they're learning about generosity.
It's rare to find a daycare that isn't in need of more toys. With so many children to entertain, daycares run through toys pretty fast. Thumb through your phone book to find daycares near you. A quick phone call to the daycare center director is all it takes to see if they want your toys.
There are a number of shelters that will gladly take your kids' gently-used toys. Shelters for abused women and the homeless are often overlooked as toy donation sites but children end up at these locations too. Look for shelters in your area through the phone book or online to brighten up someone's life in the darkest of circumstances.
6. Children's Homes
Groups of kids live together in children's homes so toys are always in demand. The number of children's homes has gone down over the years, but there are still plenty to choose from globally. The children's home director can tell you if they need toy donations and where to send them.
7. Military Families
With military men and women on the move, not every toy can make the trip to the family's new home. Welcome a military family to your city and know your child's toys will be put to good use. Contact the military family support group at your local base to find a good home for your children's toys or visit Operation Homefront to search for current needs.
From newborns to school-age kids, local churches provide child care services to a variety of children during church-related events and Sunday services. The children's ministry coordinator will be glad to let you know where you can drop off your box of toys.
9. Social Services
Your local social services division can connect you to a variety of kids who would love to play with your child's unwanted toys. This state department can get your donated toys to families who are less fortunate or to children in foster care where resources may be limited.
10. Police and Fire Departments
Policemen and firefighters often carry small toys, usually stuffed animals, to comfort scared and/or injured children on the scene. These departments generally look to public for donations to provide this service.
Call your local police and fire departments to find out if your kids' gently-used toys could be of use to a child in a dire situation.