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Whether you’ve owned your home for a few months or for many years, there’s no denying that you’ve likely got a growing pile of items that no longer serve you. Tucked away in the garage and attic or taking up space at the back of your kitchen cupboards and bedroom closet, these items can be difficult to part with. Maybe we aren’t sure where to bring them, or we just don’t want to make the time to organize them – there are many reasons why we manage to clutter up our homes with unwanted items.
Luckily, offloading these items – from clothing to kitchen gadgets to furniture – doesn’t have to be complicated. Choosing to donate items from your home is a great way to ensure they get a second life with someone who could really use them. Plus, it keeps them out of the landfill and reduces unnecessary waste. Regardless of where you live in Canada, there are many organizations ready and willing to take your used items. We’ve done the groundwork for you (you can thank us later), so all that’s left is to select an organization and load up the car!
How Will My Donations Be Used?
There are many ways your donations can be used by an organization. Whether they’re sold to finance community services, given away to those in need or even upcycled or recycled to become something new, your donation will definitely be useful to someone.
Are There Items That May Be Excluded For Donation?
In general, regardless of the organization you choose, there are certain items that will likely be refused.
Items typically excluded from donation may include:
– Mattresses, beds and sofa beds
– Extra-large and heavy items, like pool tables or pianos
– Some appliances, like dishwashers
– Propane barbecues
– Undergarments and socks
Keep in mind that each organization has different rules and regulations when it comes to what they can and can’t take, so be sure to reach out to the location you plan on donating to in advance to ensure that what you’re bringing is acceptable and usable.
Places To Donate Furniture
If you’re remodelling or just can’t stand the sight of certain furniture in your space any longer, there are plenty of places you can bring your old pieces to. Some of these locations may also offer pickup services if you aren’t able to transport your furniture, so be sure to enquire about that service if it’s something you’d find helpful.
The Salvation Army
This well-known organization accepts donations of gently used textiles, clothing and household items like furniture. Donated items are sorted and reviewed by staff to ensure they end up where they’re most likely to get the second life they deserve, whether that’s on the sales floor or in the hands of local upcyclers.
Red Door Family Shelter
Located in Toronto, the Red Door Family Shelter is a refuge for women and children who are affected by domestic abuse or experiencing a housing crisis. They also provide assistance to refugees with no other place to go. Once a family is ready to move on from the shelter, the organization’s Moving Program provides them with items to help them get started in their new space. This includes furniture and household items so they can save their money for necessities like food and clothing. Your unwanted items could help these families find their footing in a new life. Some of their requested high-priority items include dining hutches and sideboards, dining room tables and chairs, dressers/nightstands, coffee/end tables, shelving units, desks and TVs (no models older than 2010). If you have any of these specific furniture items and you’re located in the Toronto area, this may be a great way to give back while also freeing up space in your home.
This company specializes in item removals and partners with local charities (Goodwill, Habitat For Humanity, The Red Cross, etc.) and recyclers to breathe new life into unwanted goods. They’ll remove virtually anything from your location (with the exception of hazardous waste) for a fee, so if you’re looking for someone to do the brunt of the work for you, Just Junk may be a great fit!
JRCC Furniture Depot
This nonprofit organization located in the Toronto area works to provide furniture to families and individuals in need. They collaborate with more than 60 social services agencies across York Region and Toronto to get items to some of the most vulnerable people in the community. They’re often looking for basic home necessities when it comes to furniture, so think desks, tables, chairs, mattresses and couches.
This organization works directly with families who are experiencing poverty by redistributing donated furniture and housewares. Revenue generated through their furniture removal service, which is run as a social enterprise, funds its charitable activities that strive to end furniture poverty, one bed and one family at a time. Their team of volunteers rescue, repair and refurbish lightly damaged items that would otherwise end up in the landfill and make them available to their clients.
Habitat For Humanity
Habitat ReStore locations across Canada are stocked with items that have been donated by members of the surrounding community. Whether you need to clean out your basement or are looking to offload an overstock product, Habitat for Humanity ReStores can help! Your donations might be designated to local Habitats across Canada for homebuilding projects, international building programs or the Indigenous Housing Partnership. Undesignated donations are directed wherever they’ll have the greatest impact. This means they can be used to help build capacity within Habitat Canada so that they can better support local Habitats, raise money and support an even greater number of families across Canada and internationally.
Places To Donate Household Goods
From dinner plates to crystal vases to candle holders, many organizations will take used household goods. If you’re looking to make a real impact with your donations instead of seeing them marked up and put on a sales floor, consider connecting with an organization like The Elizabeth Fry Society.
Elizabeth Fry Society
This organization helps women and youth who may be at risk of coming into conflict with the law. They work directly with clients through programming that’s designed to proactively prevent crime, lower repeat offence rates and successfully integrate them back into their community. They accept donations of unused and unopened items like shampoo, soap, hand sanitizer and feminine products for their hygiene kits. With locations in the Greater Toronto Area, you can contact them directly to learn more about their current needs and see if your items may be of good use to their programs.
Places To Donate Clothing
Let’s be honest: The average person goes through a lot of clothing in their lifetime, and more often than not, unwanted items are perfectly suitable for others to use. It’s important to give old items a new chance at life with someone else. This helps these clothing items avoid the landfill, and it gives you an opportunity to provide the basic necessity of quality clothing to those who could use it.
The Salvation Army
As mentioned above, The Salvation Army accepts donated items, including clothing. They go through the same sorting process as furniture to ensure each item ends up where it’s likely to have the biggest impact, whether that’s on the sales floor or with local upcyclers.
This grassroots, not-for-profit agency in Toronto works to provide basic necessities to anyone living in poverty. Their GLOW program (Gently Loved Outfits to Wear) is a free service that helps individuals with limited income access quality clothing. The program provides an authentic retail experience that stocks general clothing for men, women and children as well as specialty items like maternity wear and plus sizes. They also work closely with Mount Sinai Hospital’s emergency ward to ensure patients being discharged have access to clothing if needed.
This online directory of charities will help you find locations that will take your used clothing or other household goods via pickup service. It’s available for any charity or donor for free and includes locations in Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, BC, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador.
Places To Donate Food
Food insecurity affects 1.15 million (or one in six) Canadian children under the age of 18. COVID-19 has worsened existing food insecurity for many communities, and individuals already struggling. Seventy percent of households who rely on social assistance in Canada are food insecure. But it also greatly affects a significant portion of the Canadian workforce. Sixty percent of food-insecure households rely on wages and salaries as their main source of income. Families working low-wage jobs simply can’t earn enough to put good food on the table. That’s where your donations come in.
Food Banks Canada
A National charitable organization dedicated to assisting Canadians who are living with food insecurity, Food Banks Canada works with a network of provincial associations, affiliate food banks and food agencies that work at a community level. Their focus is maximizing collective impact, strengthening local capacity and reducing the need for food banks in the future. They accept both nonperishable foods and monetary donations to help them fulfill their mission.
This national food rescue charity works to protect the environment and end hunger by redistributing unsold food across the country to Canadian charities, nonprofits and Indigenous communities who need them most. Their free service diverts unnecessary waste from landfills and helps nourish people through senior centres, school programs, food banks and regional food hubs. If you want to help by donating your time or money, Second Harvest hosts many fundraisers throughout the year and rely on volunteers to keep things running smoothly. If you have access to a surplus of fresh food that would otherwise go to waste (i.e. restaurant, greenhouse, farm, etc.), you can connect with them to ensure it goes to good use.
There are plenty of ways to not only donate your unwanted items, but also use them to help others in your community. Next time you clean out your home, please consider donating unused items to a neighbourhood organization that could use the goods. Donating diverts waste from landfills and gives your items a chance at a new life, helping someone would could really use the support. A simple piece of furniture could help lift a family from poverty. A box of household goods could help a family transition back into their community after suffering a tragedy. A donation of food could help a child get access to a much-needed breakfast before school. Don’t ever underestimate your power to create change simply by choosing to donate your unwanted items to charity.