You know how important it is to have the right clothes when you’re interviewing for a new job. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford to buy new professional clothes for an interview or a new position.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Employment-Related Organizations
- Organizations Serving Convicted Felons
- Organizations for Foster Families
- Local Schools
- Veterans Organizations
- Homeless Shelters
- Community Outreach Centers
- Thrift Stores
There are a lot of reasons why you might have an abundance of professional clothes lying around. Maybe you’ve switched to a more casual career or a work-at-home environment. Why not pop these into the hands of people who can benefit from them?
Many organizations can benefit from your gently-used suits and other professional clothing. You might just change someone else’s life for the better — here’s how you can donate them.
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Post-loss tip: If you are the executor for a deceased loved one, handling their unfinished business like donating their clothes can be overwhelming without a way to organize your process. We have a post-loss checklist that will help you ensure that your loved one's family, estate, and other affairs are taken care of.
1. Employment-Related Organizations
The most obvious place to donate suits and other professional clothing is to an organization that helps people who are looking for jobs. Several organizations help people in need put their best fashion foot forward. Dress for Success is found in over 25 countries around the world. Dress for Success provides women’s professional clothing for job interviews across the world and places a lot of clients in corporate environments.
Regional charities that perform similar clothing services for men are also beginning to pop up, too. Career Gear started in New York City and has expanded to New Haven, Jersey City, Baltimore, Houston, San Antonio, and Washington, D.C. Career Gear is one of the highest-profile nonprofits in certain pockets of the U.S.
You can also look for local organizations in your community. See if there are nonprofits in your area that provide job placement or employment counseling services. A local nonprofit may be able to point you in the right direction even if they don’t have closets for clients on-site. The retail store Men’s Wearhouse hosts an annual suit drive each summer to collect gently worn professional clothing for a list of nonprofit organizations around the country.
2. Organizations Serving Convicted Felons
A criminal background can be a huge barrier to workforce reentry. Many employers simply won’t hire someone who has spent time in prison, no matter the offense. Unfortunately, this can lead to high recidivism rates.
Organizations like Jails to Jobs help people find jobs despite their criminal history. They provide a wide array of resources including a directory where formerly incarcerated individuals can find free professional clothing.
Use these directories to find organizations local to you where you can donate gently worn professional clothing. This includes suits for both men and women. You may also be able to contact local prisons to learn more about where you can donate professional clothing.
3. Organizations for Foster Families
Families who take in foster children can experience a huge strain on their resources. Getting clothes for all the children in a household can be expensive. Foster parents may also need suits or professional attire for court appearances if they adopt their foster children.
Nonprofit groups around the country also put together foster care closets. Many accept donations for adults in the family, including professional attire. The Foster Coalition is a resource site for foster care-related issues — it has put together a comprehensive list of Foster Care Closets throughout the United States.
4. Local Schools
Low-income high school students also need suits for a variety of reasons. They may need professional attire for a variety of extracurricular activities like debate or mock trial competitions, scholarship interviews, or other events.
Contact your area school board to see if there are places where you can donate professional clothing to high school students. Donating can go a long way toward leveling the playing field for talented kids who can’t afford professional wear.
5. Veterans Organizations
Many veterans need help re-entering the workforce into civilian life and have new wardrobe needs. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find a nationwide organization where you can donate clothes directly to veterans.
Many charities that claim to benefit veterans rate low on Charity Navigator, a website that gauges how well nonprofits utilize their donations and resources. Instead, reach out to your local vet center, which can help you find a local charity that serves veterans. It may be able to put you in touch directly with veterans in need of professional attire.
6. Homeless Shelters
Can you name one of the most chronically underserved populations in the United States? Homeless people. Wages have stagnated and the cost of living has skyrocketed and individuals struggle to find stable places to live. Many end up in homeless shelters and stay there in limbo because their full-time wages aren’t even enough to lift them up from poverty. Sometimes finding a higher-paying job can change their circumstances.
Homeless shelters do more than just provide a place for people to sleep. They often provide food, counseling, and employment services. Some shelters offer clothing for homeless shelter residents. Professional clothing can help people perform well at interviews for new, well-paying positions.
Reach out to shelters in your area to see if residents can use the lift your professional clothes could bring. Don’t forget to also bring things like shoes, purses, belts, and even undergarments to round out your donation.
7. Community Outreach Centers
Many areas have community centers or community outreach organizations to serve their local populations. These types of organizations vary greatly depending on where you live. They exist to find the needs in their area and fill them in the best way possible. They may offer things like sports leagues for kids, low-cost child care, and after-school programs.
But they don’t just serve kids. They serve the entire family and even adults without children. A local community center can offer financial counseling, employment resources, and wardrobe assistance. Donating clothes to a community closet can help someone in your community land a great job.
8. Thrift Stores
Rural and remote areas may not have an abundance of donation options or need job placement services that require professional attire.
In this case, you can always donate clothes to local thrift stores, like Goodwill, Savers, or another shop.
Churches are another great place to reach out to if you live in an area without a huge nonprofit presence. Megachurches have plenty of resources at their disposal. Smaller local churches may need your donations and support much more.
In many smaller towns, churches serve as a place of refuge and a de facto social services agency. Churches may be able to put you in contact with individuals who need professional clothing.
Donate Professional Clothing, Including Men and Women’s Suits, to Local Charities
Unfortunately, not everyone can afford the kind of wardrobe that can help them land a job. But you can do something to help. There is no shortage of organizations you can give your unneeded men’s suits, women’s suits, and other professional attire.
Your gently worn clothes may no longer serve a purpose for you but they could transform someone else’s life.
- Goldstone, Brian “The New American Homeless.” Newrepublic.com, The New Republic, 21 August 2019, newrepublic.com/article/154618/new-american-homeless-housing-insecurity-richest-cities.