‘Tis the season of gratitude, giving and of course: decorating, parties, feasts, shopping and more. But before you go down your merry merry to do list, think about the needs of your community and all the stuff and clutter you don’t need around your home. Perhaps, you have clothing, furniture, kitchen items, or even food you have been meaning to clear out? The jolly news is charitable organizations open their doors this time of year and make it even easier for you to donate your household items to assist those in need. You can make a difference, so everyone can have a joyful holiday. And, you get to rediscover the holiday joy you experienced as a child.

This is not just another to do on your holiday list, it’s very simple and the rewards are immense – it’s the ultimate win- win! You assist others and at the same time you get a clutter free home, all prepped for the holidays. No need to scramble to find a solution for outgrown clothes and furniture, and pantry items you will never use, simply follow this guide of  “What to Give and Where to Give” and the process will be Grinch-free! 

Non-Perishable Food – Make room for all of the yummy holiday goodies! 

What to Donate: 

Wondering if your food bank wants your three pound bottle of mustard? Here are the top items that they need:  

  • Canned Vegetables & Fruits 
  • Canned Stews & Soups 
  • Canned Beans 
  • Canned Tuna 
  • Pasta & Sauce 
  • Baby Food 
  • Dry Beans 
  • Flour 
  • Cereal & Oatmeal 
  • Juice 
  • Rice 
  • Peanut/Nut Butters & Jelly/Jams 

Where to Donate: 

  • Your local Food Bank. You can find your local food bank here. 
  • Check with your local fire department, churches, synagogues, schools, and grocery stores to see if they are hosting food pantry donations drop offs 
  • Visit MoveForHunger.org, a non-profit organization that will connect you with a local moving company that will deliver your non-perishable food donations to your local food bank for you. Check out their Find A Mover tool. 
  • Willing to roll-up your sleeves? Start your own food drive. Simply ask local businesses, schools and libraries to put out your colorfully decorated food drive donation boxes and use your social networks to get the word out. It only takes 1.2lbs of food to provide a meal to an individual in need, so it doesn’t matter how big your food drive is, every little bit helps.

Clothing – Make room for your holiday sweaters! 

What to Donate: 

  • Baby, kids and adult clothing 
  • Coats (Kids and families are in great need of coats this time of year.) 
  • Suits 
  • Belts 
  • Scarves 
  • Ties 
  • Pocketbooks 
  • Boots 
  • Shoes 

Where to Donate:

Bring gently used clothing to the following charities or go online or call them to see if they will come to your door to pick up your donations.  

  • Salvation Army 
  • Epilepsy Foundation 
  • Veteran organizations 
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of America 
  • Red Cross 
  • Check with your local fire department, churches, synagogues and schools, to see if they are hosting clothing donation drop offs 

Toys– Make room for what Santa brings! 

What to Donate: 

Get your kids involved in sorting through their things so they get to learn the ultimate gift – the gift of giving! 

  • Gently used, unbroken toys or new toys that are unwrapped (it depends on the charity if a new toy is required so contact them first.) 
  • Stuffed animals 
  • Coloring books & crayons 
  • School supplies and stationery 
  • Hand held games 
  • Children’s books 
  • No toy guns or other violent toys 

 Where to Donate: 

  • Toys for Tots. Find your local Toys for Tots drop off locations here. 
  • Local children’s hospitals & hospitals 
  • Local Ronald McDonald House. Find a local Ronald McDonald location or care mobile here. 
  • Local Boys & Girls Club 
  • Many local shelters or children’s charities accept toy donations. Use this Homeless Shelter Directory to find shelters in your area.  
  • Organizations like My Stuff Bags and Stuffed Animals for Emergencies offer children a familiar object in times of crisis. 
  • Check with your local fire department, churches, synagogues, and schools, to see if they are hosting toy donation drop offs 
  • Other places to check include a children’s social services office and even stores often have a donation bin at the front entrance where you can place donation 

Household Goods & Furniture– Make room for your gifts! 

What to Donate: 

  • Antiques, collectibles 
  • Appliances (small) 
  • Artwork 
  • Bedspreads, blankets, curtains, tablecloths, decorative pillows 
  • Bicycles 
  • Books, records, tapes, CDs, DVDs 
  • Cookware, dishes, pots and pans 
  • Housewares and decorative items 
  • Jewelry 
  • Sporting goods 
  • Gently used furniture 

Where to Donate: 

  • Habitat for Humanity ReStore 
  • Salvation Army 
  • Epilepsy Foundation 
  • Veteran organizations 
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of America 
  • Red Cross 

Cell Phones–Clean out the old gadget drawer! 

What to Donate: 

  • Old smart phones & tablets (make sure to clear your data from it first!) 

Where to Donate: 

Gift Cards – Keep your drawers clutter free!  

What to Donate: 

  • Re-gift the gift cards you are given and turn them into charitable donations.  

Where to Donate: 

  • Visit sites like CharityGiftCertificates.org where you can exchange your retail gift cards for a charity donation. You will receive a tax receipt for the entire full value or residual balance of your card. 

Vehicles– Open up a parking space for Santa’s sleigh! 

What to Donate: 

  • Car 
  • Truck 
  • RV 
  • Boat 
  • Motorcycle 
  • Trailer 

Where to Donate: 

  • Habitat for Humanity Cars for Homes 
  • Salvation Army 
  • Kars 4 Kids 
  • Wheels for Wishes 
  • Cars Helping Veterans.org 

Once you have cleared the clutter and given to those who will actually use and need your unwanted items, well, just like they say in Whoville, your heart will grow three sizes and the true meaning of the holidays will come through, plus two!

This is a guest post from Laura McHolm, an organizational, moving & storage expert and co-founder of NorthStar Moving Company. NorthStar Moving Company is an award-winning, “A+” rated company, which specializes in providing eco-luxury moving and storage services.