Last-minute donations: What can I give?
Chances are, if you’ve gotten new goodies this holiday season, you’ve got a lot of stuff to toss, too. But rather than trash it (so ecologically irresponsible!), you can give to the charity of your choice with relative ease. And, come April 15, get a nifty little deduction too.
Goodwill and Salvation Army offer donation guides, so you know the relative value for tax purposes. Put together an itemized list so it’s easier to recall (3 women’s blouses x $2.50 is easier to deal with at tax time) and ask for a receipt. It really does add up.
Though this seems a no-brainer for end-of-year, I like to keep a pile of goods to donate going all year. I get more closet space, and when it’s convenient I can drop off a decent pile of goods. But keep it in its own designated bin or you’ll have a pile of stuff!
What you can give:
- Personal computers—hard drive/tower, monitor, mouse, keyboard and printer (please erase personal data before donating). Make sure they’re in working condition.
- Flat screen HDTVs only
- Clothing, shoes and boots. Wash or dry clean before donating.
- Hats, gloves, mittens and scarves
- Books, records, compact disks, video tapes and DVDs
- Games, toys and sports equipment
- Housewares: dishes, glassware, kitchen utensils, lamps and small appliances
- Collectibles, antiques, knickknacks and other giftware
- Hand tools and small power tools
- Domestics: linens, curtains, blankets, etc.
- Electronics: Stereos, radios, VCRs, DVD players, etc. Make sure they’re in working condition.
- Furniture: dressers, tables, sofas, bed frames, (except waterbed frames) etc.
What you can’t give:
- CRT TVs
- No household chemical products such as pesticides, paint, paint thinner, drain cleaner, oven cleaner, aerosols and other environmentally-unfriendly waste products.
- No automotive hazardous waste such as tires, lead acid batteries, additives, gasoline, oils, antifreeze, etc.
- No large appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, stoves/ovens, washers/dryers, air conditioners, dehumidifiers, furnaces, microwaves, trash compactors, water heaters, large console stereos, freon-based appliances, etc.
- No personal care items such as shampoo, conditioner, nail polish remover, shaving cream, hairsprays, shavers, curling irons
- No fragrance items
- No mattresses/box springs, including waterbed mattresses and waterbed frames
- No carpet or carpet padding
- No plumbing fixtures or building materials
- No traditional recyclables such as glass, newsprint, office paper, cardboard, plastics, magazines, junk mail, etc.
- No weapons such as guns, bows and arrows, ammunition, hunting knives, etc.
- No cribs, car seats, walkers or other products that do not meet the current safety standards of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, including recalled items.
Check out your particular charity’s guidelines before heading out; keep in mind that although they’re often booked up, Salvation Army also can schedule a visit to your home and pick up larger items.
Where to give?
Many folks give based on a place that’s near and dear to their heart, that helped them or a family member, or that just aligns with their values. To me, helping anyone is a great thing, so I’m not placing judgment on these, but simply presenting a list of options. I’d love to hear yours in the comments! Some of my favorite Chicagoland donation centers: