Toys of all shapes and sizes — even used — can bring joy to children in your community and beyond who are underprivileged or disadvantaged. Every child deserves to feel special, either on their birthdays, the holidays, or while going through hardships.
Donating used toys from your household or from a house full of stuff you inherited is a great way to bring your family together to help others in need. Going through your belongings or even things an elderly parent has held onto may unearth some hidden treasures, particularly old toys.
Looking through your belongings for potential donations is also a popular resolution and a way to start end-of-life planning. Some of the best places to make any sort of donations, especially children’s toys, includes Children’s hospitals, Goodwill, second chance stores, and holiday gift drives. By donating toys to these places, you’ll know that the children receiving them will cherish them just as much as your child did, if not more.
1. Children’s Hospitals or Clinics
It’s clear that children with medical conditions or who are undergoing procedures could benefit from used toy donations. Their families may have to pay costly medical bills and may be unable to provide them with new or age-appropriate toys as much as they may want to.
If you don’t live near a children’s hospital, you can always bring toys to a local children’s clinic or a pediatrician. There are likely worthy families that go to these places as well. If you’re donating stuffed animals or hypoallergenic toys that can be washed, these are great items for these facilities.
Toys that have a lot of pieces or parts, such as puzzles or board games, can also be great for common rooms. Children who have sick siblings or parents may also benefit from these donations and find them comforting.
2. Youth Rec Leagues
Do you pass a little league or sports facility during your commute? These places can always benefit from new equipment, gear, or balls. Donated toys can keep supply closets well-stocked in the event of shortages, or it can provide an underprivileged child the opportunity to take gear home to get some extra practice.
They may be unable to afford it otherwise. Encouraging children to participate in sports and outdoor activities with the proper equipment can promote healthy lifestyle choices for years to come. That being said, you may give someone the opportunity to grow their skills so much so that they earn a scholarship years down the road.
3. Local Schools
You may remember recess being your favorite part of grade school. Games, chalk, balls, and more can make recess an active and engaging part of a child’s day. Some children have excess energy that they need to expend during recess, and donated toys can help them accomplish that.
It’s likely that you live near at least one pre-school, elementary school, or middle school. High schools can even benefit from donated toys, as some offer early childhood education programs in which high school students learn how to care for children.
Used toys can also be used in unique ways and provide sensory experiences to children and young adults with disabilities. Teachers are always looking for books and craft supplies to provide to their students as well.
Goodwill is an amazing organization that accepts all kinds of donations. Used toys are one of the most sought-after items, as many families may not be able to afford new toys. Or, parents may not want to buy new toys as a way to help the environment.
Goodwill accepts toys for children of all ages. Goodwill denies donations only if the toy has been recalled or determined to be unsafe. You can also donate items like skateboards, CDs, books, and more. If you can, take a look at what Goodwill accepts before you bring over your haul.
5. Thrift Stores and Second Chance Stores
Thrift stores and second chance stores benefit your immediate community by providing a way for items to be recycled and repurposed rather than thrown away.
You can bring a wide variety of toys to thrift stores and second chance stores. These stores often have a large or unique inventory, though some locations may specialize in certain items. If you have any county roads running through your area, you’ll likely come across a thrift store or two.
6. Local Temples, Churches, or Places of Worship
Even if you do not observe any faith, you’re probably aware that temples, churches, and other places of worship are very big on charity and philanthropy work.
If the toys you donate do not go to anyone in the immediate pool of patrons, volunteers or staff will get the toys to those in need in a neighboring area or even overseas on a service trip.
7. The Red Cross
The Red Cross helps families and children who have experienced significant hardships, such as natural disasters, wars, or outbreaks. Though these families are often struggling to find a new place to live and other basic comforts, a toy or two can go a long way for a child’s outlook.
Donating stuffed animals and other toys can soothe children and provide a sense of security during times of stress.
8. Foster Home Entities or Adoption Agencies
Children who are orphaned or separated from their families undergo significant stress. Some foster care facilities aren’t well-equipped or may periodically run low on supplies, especially toys. Donating a variety of used toys, including items that multiple children can play with at once will be greatly appreciated.
You can also donate large items like bicycles or outdoor games as well, and they will likely be put to good use. Though adoption agencies or centers may not house children for very long periods of time, they’ll still be able to bring your toy donations to the right hands.
9. Childcare Facilities or Daycare Facilities
Some childcare and daycare facilities serve an important purpose for working families. As such, some of these facilities may operate on smaller budgets or resources so they can keep costs low for families.
Used toys can provide more activities for playrooms and allow broken or dirty toys to be removed.
10. Youth Clubs
Youth clubs, such as Boys & Girls Clubs, or even clubs like youth chess clubs, can benefit from specific donations. If your child has outgrown his or her “musician” phase, you can donate instruments to music clubs, choirs, or children’s orchestras in your area.
You can also get creative with your donations to theater groups, for example, and give toys or items that can be added to costumes or be used as props.
11. Other Doctor’s Offices or Healthcare Facilities
In addition to children’s hospitals, you can also donate used toys to dentists, orthodontists, and other specialists, such as mental health facilities.
These locations don’t necessarily have to focus on childcare to benefit from toy donations. Waiting areas can be stressful, boring places. Providing children waiting or being treated with a toy can make the experience more enjoyable for both staff and other patients.
12. After School Programs
After school programs provide a place for children of all ages to have a safe place to play, do homework, and more. Used toys, especially sports equipment and board games, can help children pass the time until their parent or guardian is able to pick them up.
Keeping children entertained and occupied in these places can keep them from choosing unsafe or delinquent activities after school.
13. Summer Camps or Sleepaway Camps
Summer camps and sleepaway camps need supplies, especially outdoor games and playthings. Though summer camps and sleepaway camps often work the cost of supplies into the cost of attendance, some programs are free or low-cost for underprivileged families.
Instead, these programs rely on donations and community support to make them possible.
14. Social Work Facilities
Similar to foster care entities and adoption agencies, social work facilities are closely connected to children going through hard circumstances or who are otherwise in need. These are great places to donate used toys.
Toys can be valuable in waiting areas or temporary childcare areas while parents focus on counseling or other matters. Toys may also make it into rooms where children receive counseling or other therapy.
15. Holiday or Christmas Toy Drives
Not all holiday or Christmas toy drives accept used toys. However, there are some organizations you may find that do. Some organizations do not expect you to take on the additional expense of buying a new toy.
You may find that some of the places listed above organize large-scale toy drives during the holiday season. This is because the holidays are arguably the most important time of the year to reward a child with a toy or two.
They’re More Than Just Toys
Providing children in need with toys will not only make them smile, but it can also give them security or challenge their imaginations. Even one gift may spark positivity that a child may desperately need. Though donating used toys to children’s hospitals, or any of the above places can make an impact, it’s especially important to do so during the holidays.
Children in need should feel love just the same, even if their family can’t afford material ways of showing it — or, they may not have a family around to do so. If you’re downsizing your home or doing a quick spring cleaning, gather your own family to help organize and deliver donations to teach an important lesson in gratitude.