Organizing Your Donations before You Move and the Best Places to Take Them

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As you prepare to move, there are ways to downsize before you start packing in order to reduce the amount of items you will actually have to move when the moving trucks arrive. Not only will you have less to pack, but your move will cost less if there are less possessions to put on the truck. In addition, you will have more closet space and instead of having a garage full of items you rarely use, you can actually park your cars in there or use the space for projects.

Another aspect of downsizing is that you can sell your unwanted and rarely used items to make a few extra dollars to fund your move, as well as donate to a charity that you admire in order to help the less fortunate and keep the items out of a landfill, which reduces the impact on the environment. It is an all-around good move.

As you begin the process to downsizing, you will want to create piles of possessions, according to where those belongings are headed to next. You will have a pile for “donating”, a pile for “selling”, a pile for “recycling or trashing”, and another pile for “keeping”. Keep in mind that not every unwanted item that you currently possess is something that should be donated, so that is the reason why there is a pile for recycling or trashing. Items that are ripped, stained, or broken need to be permanently evacuated from your life. Items that you believe are unusable or cannot be repaired are not usable to anyone.

Before you finish the process of donation, you will want to consider that you might have more items to donate after you have a garage sale or yard sale, or once you determine that the items you listed online are not going to sell before the move.

There is no “Maybe” When Downsizing Your Possessions

As you downsize and put items into piles, sift through one room or area at a time, and do not attempt to do all of the organizing in one day, or you might become burned out by the process. Create a schedule, and spend a few hours at a time going through the spaces in your home. Start with the areas in your home that are the least used, starting with your garage, basement, and spare rooms, and then move through the rooms that you use the most.

In any downsizing situation, never create a “maybe” pile. There are no open-ended decisions in this situation because creating another pile will convolute the process, consumes more time, and make things more difficult in the end. Items stay or they go. This is called the OHIO rule: “Only Handle It Once”.

Use a two-year rule to determine what to donate or sell. If it has been two years since you used the item last, remove the item from your life. If you have two exact items, one of them has to go. You do not need the old vacuum if you have a new one. You do not need five suits if you have only worn two of them in the last three or four years. You do not need your stereo from the 1980s or your video game console from the 1990s. In addition, keeping things that are broken and cannot be prepared makes little sense.

For clothing, do not keep any items that you have not worn in two seasons. If you have not worn an item in six months, get rid of it, with a few exceptions for items that never go out of style, such as jackets that can be worn for years, or items that are “classic”, and can survive more than a season.

In addition, kids grow fast and they grow out of their clothes quickly, so donate or sell articles that do not fit them. Children’s clothes can collect quickly, and it is possible that you will be surprised by the amount of clothing that does not fit them anymore. The same can be said for stuffed animals and toys. More than likely, they own many things they stopped using a few years ago.

The “Donation Pile”

Once you have a pile of things that you wish to donate, you will want to organize the items further, depending on where the belonging will be sent. Many charity organizations will come to your house and pick up your donations, so once you decide where you want them to go, ask if there is an option to pick up the items, especially if you have a large amount that will be difficult to load and unload. Charity organizations often have big trucks and staff members who will gladly take the items from your driveway or the curb.

The first thing you can do is visit Donation Town, which is an internet resource for donating clothing and other goods to charity organizations. The website is as an online directory of charity organizations that offer pick up service for you donated items. A simple search through their directory will get you the charity organizations closest to you.

Nonprofit Stores

There area many nonprofit stores that take your unwanted items and sell them to the public in order to make money to serve their causes and support the community at large. These places will take your clothing furniture, bedding, kitchen supplies, toys, and electronics.

Here are some nonprofit store options:

  • Goodwill organizations placed 313,000 people into employment positions in the United States and Canada last year. In addition, 34 million people accessed Goodwill education for mentoring, training, education to enhance their skills and assist in finding employment. 
    By donating to Goodwill, you help create opportunities for people in your community to build job skills and find jobs, and the individuals include military families, single parents, and homeless people.
    Goodwill accepts items that are in serviceable condition and contain all of their parts and pieces, and are free of tears and stains. They do not accept items that have been recalled or banned, or do not meet safety requirements. Goodwill accepts computers and electronics, vehicles, and mattresses, but they request that you call them before donating to find out if there are any restrictions or rules around them.
    Goodwill has a locator page in order to find the center that is closest to you. If you are donating numerous items, give them a call. Many of their donation centers have a pickup service. Goodwill also has donation bins and donation drives at college campuses and retails stores, so there are numerous options for you to donate your belongings to them.
  • The Salvation Army serves the world in many respects, and if you are looking to donate your belongings to a religious-based organization that does not discriminate, they might be the right choice for you.
    The Salvation Army serves 25 million people Americans annually, but assists people in 128 countries around the world. By donating your unwanted possessions to the Salvation Army, you will help support their rehabilitation programs that focus on addiction treatment. Salvation Army Family Stores accept clothing, furniture, household goods, appliances, and furniture that are in good shape. You can schedule a free pickup or find a drop-off location by visiting their website.
  • The Habitat for Humanity uses the money they raise at their Habitat ReStores to help families construct well-built and affordable homes. ReStores are home improvement shops that accept both large and small donations of new and gently-used items. They are looking for furniture, appliances, housewares, building materials, and other items. You can donate your belongings in person or contact them for free pickup of large items.


Your local library will often take donated used books, and if they don’t take your books, they will offer places that need them. Those places include local literary groups that are run by library services, and sister libraries in rural areas and other locations that are not as well equipped or funded as the libraries in the city. In some cases, your local library will find homes for you magazine collection as well.

Public Schools

Not all schools are well quipped with adequate books and school supplies, so ask the schools in your area if they have any use for your used books and supplies. Magazines are also welcome because they can be uses for crafts, as long as they are age appropriate. Office supplies in the form of copying paper, slightly used colored pencils, and crayons are also welcome in many cases.

Homeless Shelters

Shelters need household items like bedding and clothing. Many of them also have in-house libraries; therefore, they often take used books and magazines. Usually, they will also take working computers and electronics.

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