Donating “Stuff” and Making it Count!

Winter is a hard time for many people in our community, but it’s heartening to see a lot of enthusiasm for giving even after the December holidays. We at the SJC have had the good fortune to receive plenty of donated items over the years (i.e. in-kind donations) that our storage is full to bursting!

Based solely on how often we receive offers of donated items it seems like our network is passionate about making sure their unwanted items can be used to help others as much as possible. It’s important to be aware of the ways in which in-kind donations can actually harm rather than help (see the “second disaster” of disaster relief or exporting unwanted clothes to the Global South), but on a local level where there is more accountability and overlapping context (maximizing likely benefit of a second-hand item), donating your unwanted items can do a lot of good for the community and environment. But only if your donations go to the right place!

The truth is, the SJC is not currently equipped to handle very many donated items, and we are certainly not able to allocate them where they can best be used. We are building our capacity so that perhaps we might be able to help partners in the community distribute donated goods and we’re in the process of de-cluttering our lower level storage to someday become home to bigger and better things, like a lending library of things. At the moment we are limited in the kinds of items we can accept — but that is not the case for all organizations. It feels inadequate to turn away generous offers of gently used items, so we wanted to keep a list of places that accept in-kind donations and what kinds of things they are looking for.

Here is a list of recommendations for the next time you want to make a difference by donating your gently used items:

Books – our member organizations do such awesome work! Visit Wisconsin Books to Prisoners and LGBT Books to Prisoners sites to see what kinds of books they can accept and are looking for.

Madison Reading Project – if LGBT / Wisconsin Books to Prisoners cannot accept the books you’d like to donate, it’s very possible this might be a better fit, especially children’s & young adult books.

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Did you know you can offer unwanted items through the Dane County TimeBank? TimeBank members and the TimeBank store are often looking for miscellaneous items.

Check out recent offers & requests, or post yours today.

Not a TimeBank member? No problem! It’s super easy to join, just click here.

Here are some other fantastic organizations in the Madison area. For up-to-date contact info and details on needed items, click on the links below.

Friends of the State Street Family  – Emergency survival items, i.e. winter gear, sleeping bags and blankets

YWCA Madison – Child care items, non-perishables, household goods

And finally of course, the local staples of item donation are good options as well, many offer pick up and have multiple locations.

ReStore – Appliances, remodeling supplies/materials, some furniture

St. Vinny’s – Clothing, furniture and household items

Goodwill – Clothing, furniture and household items as well as working or NON-working computer equipment

So who are we missing? Are there other local organizations or projects accepting used goods that you would recommend? Who are your favorites? Let us know and we’ll add them to the list!!

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