Yes, There Are Places That Will Accept Your Kids' Gently Used Toys

Katie Bourque
·4 mins read
Photo credit: lithiumcloud - Getty Images
Photo credit: lithiumcloud - Getty Images

From Good Housekeeping

With the holidays right around the corner, many people are looking to find the best toys to buy this Christmas. And if you're adding new toys to your kid's collection, you might be wondering what to do with the old ones. As kids grow, they develop new interests and skills, and toys that used to be their favorites get tossed aside like vegetables at a birthday party. While you might consider simply throwing those old toys in the trash, there are plenty of kids who would love to receive them. And at the very least, you can help them avoid the landfill.

Here are all the places you can donate gently used toys, including electronics, stuffed animals, dolls and other items. Before you pack up the car, call ahead to make sure the organization you've chosen is currently accepting donations. During the coronavirus pandemic, some groups have updated their donation requirements. And for more ways to give, don't miss the best places to donate clothes.

1. Charities

There are so many charities that will accept gently used toys and distribute them throughout their networks. For example, thrift-store organizations like Goodwill and The Salvation Army will resell toys in their shops and use the profits to support their charitable work. You could also give to Toys for Tots, the United States Marine Corps Reserve-run program that gives donated toys to children in need. Toys for Tots hosts popular toy drives around the holidays, but they also accept gently used toys year-round. Cradles to Crayons is another organization that accepts new and nearly new toys to benefit low-income families.

2. Buy Nothing Groups

Especially amid the coronavirus pandemic, it can be difficult to find charities and organizations that will accept donations of gently used toys — but that doesn't mean your kid's old things are destined for the dump. If you can't find any places to donate toys, try posting the items on your local Buy Nothing Facebook group. You could also list the toys on Freecycle or Craigslist. Make sure you disinfect the toys before you donate them, just as you would with any other charity.

3. Hospitals

Many hospitals will accept donated toys for their young patients to play with, or to keep children entertained in the waiting room; the same thing goes for doctor's offices. But keep in mind: If you want to donate toys to your local children's hospital, they must be new. Most hospitals have strict hygiene policies, so you'll need to purchase the toy specifically for the purpose of donating (contact the hospital near you to learn more about their specific requirements). To get a sense of the most valued items, check out this list from Mount Sinai of the toys patients want the most.

Photo credit: Jurgita Vaicikeviciene / EyeEm - Getty Images
Photo credit: Jurgita Vaicikeviciene / EyeEm - Getty Images

4. Children's Homes and Shelters

Your toys will definitely get played with if you donate them to a local children's or women's shelter. Get in touch with the director of the children's home nearest to you to see where and how your donations can be most useful. Your local social services office might also be able to direct you to children in the foster care system and other children in need who would greatly appreciate gently used toys.


5. Daycare Centers

If you've ever been to a day-care center, you know that they go through toys quickly. That's why if you have a ton of lightly used toys to donate, you might contact a center in your area to see if they're able to give your items a second life.


6. Police and Fire Departments

Police officers and firefighters often carry stuffed animals and other small toys with them to comfort children at the scenes of traumatic events, and their supply of toys sometimes depends on donations. Reach out to your local police and fire departments to see if they're accepting donations right now. For an easy way to donate toys to this cause, give your items to Stuffed Animals for Emergencies (SAFE). This organization accepts gently used stuffed animals, blankets, books, children's clothes and baby items, and finds organizations in the area that can use the donations for youngsters in emotional situations.

7. Churches

The leader of your local church may know of families within the church who could use a few new toys. Otherwise, the church itself may want the toys to keep children occupied during Sunday school, services or other local events. Contact the church's children's ministry coordinator for more information.

8. Recycling Programs

If the toys you're looking to get rid of are soiled, torn or otherwise not in great shape, recycling them may be the best bet. You can get in contact with your local recycling service and see if they take toys (because they don't always!), or check out TerraCycle. TerraCycle has a partnership with Hasbro specifically for recycling old toys — it's free and easy! You mail in your toys, and they break them down into raw materials to recycle them. Learn more on their website.

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