It’s been a long winter, BUT Spring is finally here and we could not be more excited! For our house Spring means BBQs, yard games, gardening, and the annual spring purge. After spending lots of time indoors over the winter, finally having space to play outside inspires a desire for more room to grow indoors as well. This is a great opportunity to go through items and let go of what doesn’t serve that growth. The cathartic experience gained from purging these items is as unique as each individual, but one question remains the same for everyone… “Now what do I do with this stuff?!”
One of the best ways to ensure that your once treasured items make an impact is through donation. Donating used items is a great way to practice sustainability. Donated items stay out of landfills and decrease the demand for newly produced resources such as textiles and wood for furniture.
Donating can also have a huge impact on your local community. This is especially true for states with high levels of poverty. Our state, New Mexico, has the third highest poverty rate in the nation according to the 2022 census, with 18.4% of our population living at or below the poverty line. Many of the places that accept donations operate/participate in beneficial community programs that help people in all walks of life. At Compose Your Space, helping others is why we do what we do, and we know that giving, especially in a state as poor as ours, can make a world of difference.
So where should I donate my used items?
PART I: THE BIG 4
The Salvation Army, Goodwill, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Habitat for Humanity
There are tons of places in any local area that accept donations, but there are also a few large, recognizable organizations that operate nationwide. These organizations are, often, the go-to donation places for people, and, because they are so prevalent, I thought it would be a good idea to know more about them. What programs do my donations support when I donate to these places? What happens to my donations? And what types of donations do these organizations accept?
The Salvation Army is an international aid organization that offers multiple opportunities to receive/lend support. They reportedly assist 25 million Americans a year and offer services in the form of disaster relief, rent and utility assistance, food pantry operations, job training, after-school programs, and several more.
In addition to accepting monetary donations, The Salvation Army accepts donated goods to be sold at their local thrift stores. Proceeds from the thrift stores fund their Adult Rehabilitation Centers where residents receive help with substance abuse issues.
Commonly Donated Items:
- Men, Women, and Children
- Air Conditioners
- Bed frames
- Bedroom sets
- Coffee table
- Crib w/ Mattress
- Dresser w/or w/o mirror
- Kitchen Set
- Household Goods
This list is not comprehensive and not all Salvation Army locations accept all items. So if you are unsure about any items, it is best to call and check before making your donation. The Salvation Army offers local drop off locations as well as scheduled pickups for certain items. A donation value guide for tax receipts can be found here.
Goodwill Industries is an international non-profit committed to helping people find jobs and gain access to services such as job training, life skill classes, Veteran reintegration programs, and more. They are also CARF Certified. CARF is a non-profit accreditor of health and human services.
Items that are donated to Goodwill are sold in one of their many thrift stores where 89 cents of every dollar spent goes directly towards services and operation of programs. If an item is deemed unsellable for any reason, it is routed to a recycling program. Goodwill also offers free E-Waste recycling for items such as computers/laptops, VCR’s, TV’s, etc. and disposes them in an eco-friendly manner.
- Clothing/Shoes, Accessories
- Electronics (working and non-working)
While Goodwill accepts many items, a list of non-acceptable items, such as mattresses, large appliances, and auto parts can be found here. Check the list before making your donation. Goodwill Industries of New Mexico has 14 drop off locations and offers limited item pickup.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is a nationwide non-profit mentor organization that strives to create meaningful mentor relationships between Bigs (adults) and Littles (children 6-18). These mentorships foster healthy relationships that have a positive impact on these children’s lives through both community and educational programs.
Items that are donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters generate funding through a partnership with Savers. The funding generated through this partnership accounts for 40% of BBBS’s operating budget.
Below is a condensed list of acceptable/non-acceptable items donatable to Big Brothers Big Sisters. The comprehensive list of both acceptable and non-acceptable items is quite long but can be found here.
- Clothing/ Clothing Accessories
- Man, Woman, Child
- Scarves, Hats, Gloves, Etc.
- Personal Accessories
- Small appliances
- Sewing Machines
- Clocks/Decorations/Artificial Plants
- Small appliances
- Toys/Games/Sports Items
- Holiday Decorations
- Musical Instruments
- Sporting Goods
- Camping Equipment
- Golf Clubs
- Large Appliances
- Waterbeds or Adjustable Beds
- Large Furniture
- Entertainment Center
- Lawn Mowers
There are many drop off locations located throughout the city. They have building locations as well as drop off boxes which are easily recognizable by their bright green color and Big Brothers Big Sisters logo. Visit their website to find the nearest drop off location.
Habitat for humanity is an international nonprofit dedicated to building/repairing homes for low income families worldwide. The Greater Albuquerque Habitat for Humanity (this area’s chapter of HFH) partners with low income families and communities to build 4 to 6 new homes a year. Throughout the year, they also offer help with outside non-structural repairs needed by existing low-income homeowners.
Because this organization is mainly construction based, their accepted items and donation thrift store reflect that. The Habitat for Humanity run ReStore is one of the only places that accepts donated construction materials. They also accept large appliances and other items that might be needed to furnish a newly built home. Proceeds from the ReStore go directly towards the cost of building these new homes.
Acceptable Items (all must be in working condition)
- Appliances less than 10 years old
- Electrical parts, wires, plugs, etc.
- Exercise Equipment
- Lumber, Plywood, Sheetrock, Trim
- Pipe, PVC, Metal, Copper
- Plumbing, Tubs, Sinks, Showers
- Roofing Material, Gutters
- Tools and Hardware
- Area Rugs
- Clothing, Bedding, Linens
- Car Parts
- File Cabinets
- Garage Doors
- Shower Doors
- Unframed Mirrors
- Steel Crank Windows
These are only some of the acceptable/non-acceptable items. A comprehensive list can be found here. Donated items can be dropped off directly at the ReStore or you can schedule a pickup online/by phone.
So there you have it! The BIG 4. I’m sure you, like myself, have donated items to at least one of these organizations at some point and have at least heard of the rest. All of these BIG 4 organizations are fabulous and would be lucky to receive any of your donatable items, but they are not the end-all-be-all of donations despite their large presence. As is in any local area, there are tons of small local programs and organizations that are just as deserving of recognition. Next time we meet we will discuss donating to THE UNDERDOGS – Small Local Organizations Making a Big Impact.
Till next time!