Now that the new year is almost here, you may be looking for New Year’s resolution ideas. One always-popular resolution is to get organized. You might resolve to store important documents or clean out your closets.
Are you guilty of holding onto clothes you don’t wear just because they’re in nice condition? Why not put those clothes to good use? After all, they could enrich someone else’s life. Some people can’t afford professional clothes for job interviews.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Domestic Violence Shelters
- Employment-Related Organizations
- Organizations Helping Victims of Natural Disasters
- Footwear-Friendly Organizations
- Organizations for Special Occasions
Others are displaced from their homes because of domestic violence or natural disasters. Refugees flee from unsafe countries and have to start over from scratch. These people need access to nice clothing for free or at affordable prices.
Several types of organizations can benefit from your clothing donation. We name some of the most reputable national organizations in certain categories and offer some tips and tricks to find the best local organization in each category. Here’s how you can do the most good.
1. Domestic Violence Shelters
When someone is in a situation where domestic violence is present, they often have to flee their home with no warning. Domestic violence can be committed by any gender but women are the ones most frequently displaced. They often need to bring their children with them as well.
Domestic violence shelters can always benefit from clothing donations for women and children — all sizes and types are welcome. Casual clothes, shoes, undergarments, and accessories are also encouraged. The organization DomesticShelters.org offers lots of resources for victims of domestic violence. Its search tool allows you to find domestic violence shelters in your area.
Find the shelter nearest you and call. The shelter can explain its needs and coordinate a drop off if you have items that meet their needs. Domestic violence shelters often don’t release their exact locations, which protects both employees and victims who stay in the shelter. This means donations usually happen at off-site locations.
2. Employment-Related Organizations
Have you retired or changed jobs? If so, you may have unneeded professional clothing that takes up room in your closet. Many people cannot afford clean, new professional clothing for job interviews. This can keep them trapped in unemployment or in low-paying jobs. There are a number of reasons why people aren’t able to afford proper interview clothing. A new job could be truly life-changing for people.
Several national and international organizations provide professional clothing to people in need. One of the most well-known is Dress for Success, which is found in 150 cities in 25 different countries. Its mission is to empower all women by providing them with professional clothing for interviews.
Dress for Success provides developmental tools to help women land their dream jobs and continue advancing. Dress for Success has helped over a million women advance professionally and become self-sufficient.
Employers are often leery about giving convicted felons job opportunities even if they’ve paid their debt to society. Jails to Jobs seeks to help eradicate the problem of reoffending — people who can’t find work to support themselves sometimes turn back to illegal activities in order to survive.
Jails to Jobs performs a wide variety of services to men and women who are recently incarcerated. One service is a directory where men and women can get free professional interview clothing. Use that directory to look up organizations near you affiliated with Jails to Jobs.
Want to make sure your clothing donation really benefits your local community? There are other avenues you can explore. You can call local homeless shelters and see if any of them keep professional clothes on site for people who interview for jobs.
You can also contact local community career centers to see if they accept professional clothing donations. Even if they don’t take donations, they may be able to point you in the right direction.
3. Organizations Helping Victims of Natural Disasters
Clean out your closet of any unneeded clothing donations for natural disasters. You can also gather donations from friends and clean out your elderly parents’ house. Once you’ve got a good assortment of clothing collected, reach out to a local mutual aid organization.
Big charities like the American Red Cross do incredible work. However, they benefit more from cash donations than physical items. It's easier for them to direct funds to areas affected by disasters like wildfires, hurricanes, tornados, and more.
Smaller grassroots organizations can bring your donations directly to the people. This means they distribute supplies like food, water, and clothing to people at ground zero of a given disaster.
The Mutual Aid Disaster Relief is a national network of community organizers, social justice activists, and other people committed to improving their communities. While they don’t have local chapters, they do support affinity groups. You can reach out to them in the event of a natural disaster near you and have them connect you with groups and collectives in your local community.
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4. Footwear-Friendly Organizations
Not being able to afford shoes can be a huge barrier for people. Adults without shoes can’t go to work and children without shoes can’t go to school. Homeless people face discomfort and loss of dignity without footwear. People all over the world become more vulnerable to disease if they are shoeless in places with poor sanitation. A pair of your unneeded shoes can have a big impact.
Soles4Souls is a great organization that comprehensively addresses issues faced by people without shoes. They coordinate with retailers and manufacturers to collect clothing and shoes and distribute them for free to people in need.
They also collect gently-used shoes from individuals. If you have shoes that just don’t feel right, you can donate them. If your kids are outgrowing their barely-used shoes, you can donate those, too. Soles4Souls’ main focus is shoes but it also distributes clothing.
Soles4Souls only has donation centers in a handful of states but anyone in the United States can donate. Soles4Souls has partnered with Zappos for Good, which covers the shipping cost for you to send shoes and clothing to a donation center.
You can ship up to 50-pound boxes — just print out a prepaid shipping label from the Zappos for Good site. You can send multiple boxes of up to 50 pounds each. Your donation of gently-used shoes and clothing will benefit people all over the world.
5. Organizations for Special Occasions
Formal occasions like proms and weddings are some of the most iconic and memorable moments of your life. But for economically disadvantaged people, these rites of passage are often out of reach. The average wedding gown cost $1,631 in 2018. Prom dresses can cost hundreds of dollars.
You can donate your wedding or prom dress to people in need. The nonprofit organization DonationTown.org has a database of hundreds of charities from around the country who can pick up your wedding gown or prom dress donation.
You can also contact high schools in your area, especially in districts with low-income students. Many of them have prom closets to enable all students to go to prom.
Charities that Benefit Specific Groups of People in Need of Clothing
Decluttering your own space can be a positive for others, whether you’ve inherited a house full of stuff or just want to find your inner Marie Kondo. Take a little time to research how your unwanted clothes and shoes can have a huge impact on people’s lives.
Find the cause that connects most with you and reach out to one of the charities we’ve discussed. You can also find a local organization and make an impact there.
- “This is the Average Cost of a Wedding Dress.” Theknot.com, The Knot, 15 June 2018, www.theknot.com/content/average-cost-of-wedding-dress.