Editor’s Note: We first ran this article in 2011, but continue to revise it each year, so it is current. We also have an article that details where to recycle, and several devoted to consignment and where to sell your stuff, in general. Happy purging!
By Rachael McMillan
What I love about donating stuff we never use is that it is one of those rare win-win-win-win opportunities.
Win #1: After a good decluttering, our house has less junk spilling out from everywhere.
Win #2: By donating our goods, a worthy non-profit organization benefits — many of them local to Champaign-Urbana.
Win #3: Someone who can’t afford to purchase brand new items — or, someone who prefers to reuse — can shop the donations.
Win #4: The environment has less waste floating around in it when donated items are purchased vs. discarded.
Win #5: Making donations can result in a tax deduction. Be sure to get a receipt (but not all places/events will give them, so ask before you donate).
The following lists can help you figure out what to do with your excess. Whether you’re looking to donate right now, don’t mind waiting a little bit longer, or have a very specific donation item, this information can hopefully point you in the right direction.
Get Rid Of It NOW
The following organizations are always ready to accept clothes, toys, household items, and more. Clicking on the links will lead to more information about hours, drop-off locations, and individual store policies regarding what they will/won’t accept.
Consider the condition of your clothing items when donating. Some organizations (Goodwill and the Salvation Army are known nationally for the practice) will accept worn and stained garments, which they sell to a clothing recycler (who knew? thanks commenters!). Mark such donations with recycling, and separate them from other goods that may be resold.
Also, if you want an item to be re-used but aren’t sure where to donate or recycle it, check out the The I.D.E.A. Store in Champaign. It accepts items that are safe to reuse in art projects, and the list of what they’ll take is fairly large. It includes scraps of fabric, mismatched game pieces — even pop tabs and bottle caps. All are welcome to peruse their collection of art supplies, and proceeds benefit the Champaign Urbana Schools Foundation.
Direct Service Agencies:
- Crisis Nursery 1309 W. Hill St., Urbana: baby/child clothing, baby/childcare items, office supplies, kids’ snacks, misc. items. Be sure to check out the link if you’d like to donate to them, as their needs are very specific. They prefer new items or items in excellent condition.
- Empty Tomb 301 N. Fourth St., Champaign: in-season clothing, household items, furniture. If you live in Champaign, Urbana, or Savoy, call 356-2262 to arrange pick-up of furniture donations.
- Restoration Urban Ministries 1213 Parkland Ct., Champaign: in-season clothing, furniture, appliances, and household goods. Call 355-2662 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for drop-off hours and information.
- Salt & Light Ministry 1512 W. Anthony Dr., Champaign: like-new condition clothes, furniture, and household items. This organization also accepts food donations, as does the Eastern Illinois Foodbank.
- Orphans Treasure Box 826 Pioneer St., Champaign: Books, CDs, DVDs, educational games and learning tools. Check here to see what they accept and guidelines. Benefits orphans and their caregivers.
Thrift Stores That Benefit Direct Service Agencies:
- Goodwill 1201 Savoy Plaza Lane, Savoy: clothing, accessories, some furniture, household items, books, cds. Other Goodwill drop offs include Urbana (at the LaBelle Boutique at 114 N. Vine).
- ReStore 119 E. University Ave, Champaign: furniture, appliances, building materials, household items, books, some accessories. They offer pick-up services (call 355-6460). Benefits Habitat for Humanity
- Salvation Army 2212 N. Market St. and 109 W. John, Champaign: clothes, accessories, some furniture/household items, books, toys. Both locations accept donations. Call 373-7825 to arrange for pick up of furniture donations.
- Connections Located inside Lincoln Square Mall, Urbana: adult and children’s clothing, accessories, and toys. Toys must not be damaged, and must have all the pieces. Proceeds benefit Courage Connections, formerly the Center for Women in Transition.
- Twice is Nice 607 W. Elm, Urbana: clothing, household items, small appliances, books, CDs, toys, accessories. This is a program of the First Presbyterian Church in Urbana; the website has more information about who benefits when you donate/shop there.
- Carle Carle Auxiliary Resale Boutique Corner of Lincoln and University in Urbana. Accepts clothing and shoes in good, clean condition, household items, home décor, books, DVD’s and CD’s, small working electrical items, jewelry, linens, holiday items, antiques, games and puzzles. Funds the Carle Auxiliary Guest House, student scholarships, baby shirts for newborns, Professional Excellence Awards to Carle nurses and other philanthropic projects.
When You Don’t Mind Waiting A Bit Longer
The following organizations take donations later in the year to supply their annual rummage sale-style fundraisers. If you see one you would like to support, you may wish to hang onto your items until it’s ready to take them (click on the links to learn more and/or for contact information).
One benefit to going this route is that it allows you to clear clutter at your own pace. My husband and I like to keep a box in the garage for storing things we no longer have use for as we come across them throughout the year. We move a lot of junk this way, and are always ready to support our favorite annual fundraiser when it comes along.
NOTE: The information in the links tends to be about past years’ events; contact each organization for information about the 2016 sale.
- Humane Society Garage Sale Sale is on Memorial Day weekend (May 27-29) at the Champaign County Fairgrounds, drop-off occurs the week before. You may also want to consider donating your time to this event when it comes around. Not only do volunteers help out a great cause, they also get first pick of the cool stuff for sale.
- Community Center for the Arts Ginormous Garage Sale. C4A’s Annual Garage Sale usually takes place on a Friday and Saturday (in 2016 it was April 22-23). C4A takes gently used and once-loved but now forlorn stuff: clothes, jewelry, furniture, books, games, toys, bikes, DVD’s, household goods, kitchen appliances, sports gear, music gear, camping gear, transmission gears, and more – all tax deductible!
- YMCA Dump and Run Sale Drop-off of items occurs at the end of U of I’s spring semester. The main concept behind this fundraiser is to collect items students would otherwise dispose of (read: abandon) during the spring move-out and sell it to the incoming crop of young academics in the fall. Genius. They even take toys and stuffed animals! They do not collect: televisions, paint, child/infant car seats, stoves, washers, dryers, non-working electronics & computer parts, sleeper sofas, mattresses, televisions, or large exercise equipment.
Donating Very Specific Stuff
If you’re flush with books to donate, consider benefiting local libraries including Champaign, Urbana, Mahomet, and Tolono. Each has its own rules on how, what, and when to donate. Depending on the library, your donation might end up in the general collection, but more likely it will end up in a book sale. Some libraries also accept media including DVDs, CDs, and video games.
If you have an old bike, even if it needs some repair, consider donating it to The Bike Project of Champaign-Urbana. They sell restored bikes at reasonable prices, and advocate for a bike-friendly community.