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17 Best Places to Donate Gently Used Toys

Mychelle Blake
Volunteer accepting stuffed animal donation

As your children get older, they'll likely outgrow or become bored with many toys that are in perfectly good condition. Instead of throwing them away or leaving them in your closets to take up space and gather dust, consider sharing them with organizations that can help get them into the hands of youngsters who will greatly appreciate them and put them to good use.

Where to Donate Used Toys

Many types of nonprofit organizations accept donations of toys. Some charitable groups sell donated toys,

providing support for a good cause while also helping many families afford toys for their children that they would not otherwise be able to purchase. Others distribute the toys they receive directly to underprivileged youngsters. Still others make the toys available for children who utilize their services, providing entertainment during difficult times. There are many places to consider when looking to donate used toys.

Thrift Shops

Charitable groups such as Goodwill, the Salvation Army, the St. Vincent de Paul Society and others accept donations of all types of secondhand items, including toys, for resale in thrift shops. Most of these types of shops take donations during their standard hours of operation, as well as via drop boxes placed in various areas within the communities they serve.

Shelters

If your community has a shelter for domestic violence survivors or a homeless shelter that accepts families, consider sharing toys that your child no longer wants or needs with the organization. These types of shelters operate on shoestring budgets and rely heavily on donations. Toys can be an important part of the healing process for children in this difficult situation.

Toy donations for children in shelters

Church, Synagogue and Mosque Day Care Centers

Many religious organizations operate nonprofit day care and mom's day out programs. Many of them accept donations of toys that are appropriate for the age group of youngsters who participate in their programs.

Libraries

It's likely you think of the library as simply a place to donate books, but many also have lending programs for toys, especially for younger children. It's worth the time it takes to make a call to your local branch.

Art Schools

If you'd like your toys to take on a new life, consider donating them to young artists. Many want bright and colorful items to use to enhance their projects. Who knows? Your old toys may end up in a masterpiece someday.

Operation Homefront

This organization helps to serve military families in need with a wide variety of programs. Contact them to find out about local families and programs that would be eager to take in toy donations.

Museums

Believe it or not, there are several museums in the United States that would welcome your donations to enhance their exhibits. These include the Strong Museum of Play and the Tulsa Children's Museum. Contact each museum directly to see specific requirements. Your toys need not be in mint condition.

Children's Hospitals

See one that has toys in the waiting room? It's likely that they were donated. When facing medical treatments - or simply waiting for a family member - most will welcome the distraction that your donation can give.

Volunteers accepting toy donations at a warehouse

Foster Programs

Foster kids are often shuttled from house to house, and many foster families don't have a lot of extra money to spend on toys. That's why organizations such as Foster Cares are always in need of donations. Contact your local Department of Social Services to find a similar program in your area.

Preschools and Daycares

If you're looking for a tax write-off, you may not be able to get one by providing used toys to a local daycare or preschool, unless it's a non-profit. However, these organizations will definitely make use of them and the children they serve will enjoy your gift. Check with each individual daycare and preschool first, as some may not be interested in taking the toys from you. Others may not use them in their workplace but might be happy to provide the toys in a "take home" donation box for parents when they come to drop off and pick up their children.

Toys for Tots

This national organization has a page on their website to find your local campaign. This program sponsored by the U.S. Marine Corps gathers new and used toys as gifts for needy children at Christmas time.

Support for families with toy donations to children

Stuffed Animals for Emergencies

This charitable organization that provides comfort to children in traumatic situations through toys, books, clothes and blankets. Local chapters happily take donations of gently used toys, especially stuffed animals.

Second Chance Toys

This organization is dedicated to providing toys to children living at or below the poverty level in parts of New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia. They collect plastic toys only and they must have all of their parts with batteries included. They also require toys not have any small parts. There are drop off locations you can bring the toys to, although they will also arrange for a drop-off at a local organization if you can collect 50 or more.

Local Organizations

There are many small, local organizations that accept toy donations that may not have this information listed on their website or public brochures. An easy way to find these organizations is to use the Donation Town website. Just enter your zip code and you will get a list of organizations that provide pick up service for your type of donation, which includes toys.

Stuff animal donation

Police and Fire Departments

Speak to your local police and fire departments about whether they would like to have some used toys on hand. When children need to be at the station if their family is dealing with crisis, it's very helpful for the staff to have some toys for the children to play with to keep their minds occupied. Stuffed animals are definitely great options, but any type of toy can work as well.

Online Sites

You can use a site like Freecycle to list your toys and give them to people who want them. You can do the same and list them for free on selling sites like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist and Nextdoor. There are also some apps on your smartphone that you can use to give away free used toys such as Listia and OfferUp. Another way to donate toys is to just post what you have on your own personal Facebook page. Friends and family reading your post may know of people in need who will want the toys, or of local charities that will take them.

Animal Shelters

Some animal shelters will happily take stuffed animals, provided they're safe for their animals. That means stuffed animals that don't have any small parts, like button eyes, that can be ripped off and ingested. They also must not be stuffed with any materials that might be harmful for the animals. Just as much as dogs may enjoy playing and ripping up stuffed animals, many also will simply enjoy having something soft to cuddle with to reduce their kennel stress, and cats and small pets will do the same. Talk to your shelter first about what types of toys they will take.

Preparing Toys to Donate

Each organization that takes donated toys has guidelines for what types of items are accepted. Most request that donations are in good condition and in proper working order, simply because they don't have the resources to repair broken items. Some are hesitant to accept used stuffed animals because of concern about the potential for transferring germs.

Verify the Organization Accepts Used Toys

Before dropping off secondhand toys at a nonprofit organization call to verify that the types of items you want to give are things the agency needs. If the organization you contact isn't able to utilize what you want to donate, it's likely that the person you speak with will be able to refer you to another charitable group that is in desperate need of the items you have.

17 Best Places to Donate Gently Used Toys