I am a lover of live comedy, engrossing films, scenic hikes, social enterprises, delicious food and unique experiences. I write about the many ways people can give back to causes they care about here: thethriftyphilanthropist.com
Published November 13th 2017
November is a great time for spring cleaning. You can make space for all the new goodies you will receive at Christmas time, and you might find some unopened items (quite possibly unused gifts from the previous year) that someone less fortunate would really appreciate.
If you're on a downsizing or decluttering mission it's good to be aware that there are more than just op shops out there who could make great use of your unwanted things.
I recently held a garage sale and I didn't move quite as many items as I hoped I would, but the process of clearing out all the things I was willing to let go of was cathartic. I made the promise to myself not to take anything back into the house, but I had so much stuff there still wasn't enough room in the garage for my car!
Don't get me wrong - I LOVE op shops! However, if you have some extra time to search for services and patience for drop offs to different locations, there are so many organisations who can provide items directly to people in need.
The following is not an exhaustive list, but it includes places I have taken my unwanted or used items to. I even started taking other people's things off their hands and donating on their behalf because when I drop things off I feel like Santa and it absolutely makes my day!
Bras Who would want your daggy old bras, I hear you thinking? Uplift Bras, that's who. Go to their website to find a drop-off point near you.
Shoes Shoes for Planet Earth have multiple collection points around Melbourne for shoes that you've grown out of but are still in decent condition. They'll accept men's, women's and children's shoes and distribute them throughout 18 countries over 3 continents.
Second hand shoes are provided to school children in South Africa who walk 15kms to school every day
Bags and cosmetics Share the Dignity's annual 'It's in the Bag' campaign is running from 18 November to 2 December. Show a woman facing homelessness that you care this Christmas by donating a handbag filled with everyday luxuries we might take for granted.
An example of bag contents for a woman in need
Bikes Have the kids grown out of their childhood bikes or is your bike gathering cobwebs like mine was? Bicycles for Humanity know that a bike can be a life-changing object, but they don't just donate bikes. Shipping containers are filled with donated bikes then sent to countries where they are needed, then the container converts into a bike workshop providing skills, training and business opportunities.
Bicycles for Humanity provide empowerment for communities all over the world.
Mobile phones There are many organisations that would love your old mobile phone. I donated mine to Zoos Victoria's 'They're calling on you' campaign. Phones are refurbished and resold to raise funds for primate conservation.
Help save gorillas from extinction by donating your old mobile phone
Women's work clothes Fitted for Work assist disadvantaged women in search for work with a complete outfit suitable for a job interview. They accept new or good quality used clothing, shoes, bags and accessories.
Fitted for Work are helping disadvantaged women gain and retain employment
Computers Computer in need of an upgrade but nobody wants to buy your old one? Take it to ComputerBank in West Melbourne where they can refurbish it and provide it at a low cost to concession card holders, not for profit organisations or asylum seekers.
A happy ComputerBank customer
Household items, toys, bedding and more West Welcome Wagon supports asylum seekers by providing essential household items. This service is only available in certain Western suburbs of Melbourne but you can search for similar services in your local area.
When all else fails...
The items donated to those in need should be in good condition. The old rule of, "If you wouldn't give it to a mate, don't donate" applies in most cases. So to save your broken, torn or unusable things from landfill, check out your local recycling services - you'd be amazed at the number of things that can be given a second life!
Already a minimalist?
Many of these projects are run by volunteers and rely on the generosity of others through donations of money or time to keep going.