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Organize a Used Clothing Donation Drive

by Katherine Noyes
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Used clothing donations provide needed warmth for the homeless.

Unfortunately, many would-be donors throw out perfectly good used clothes rather than deliver them to The Salvation Army or Goodwill.

A clothes drive is a fun way to make it easier for would-be donors to make a difference, particularly if you live in a multi-resident building, work at a large office, or belong to a civic club, church, synagogue or mosque.

Homeless people and low income families need all types of gently used clothing, particularly warm clothes and coats for cold weather, formal clothes (to attend job interviews), kids' clothing (they grow out of them so fast!), and shoes (which frequently wear out). It's helpful if donated clothing is clean, reasonably wrinkle-free, and on hangers or neatly folded.

A few signs and prizes can encourage 20, 50, 100 or even more families around you to donate their used clothing and shoes. To motivate maximum donations, you could create excitement by offering:

  • a prize for the heaviest contribution, to encourage "spring-cleaners" to donate as much as possible
  • a prize awarded at random for any contribution, no matter how small, to encourage used clothing donations from as many participants as possible

Remember that every little bit helps. Then again, once you've got people inspired, you'll be amazed at the difference your used clothing donation drive can make.

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Friendship Used Clothing Collection offers suggestions for organizing a used clothing donation drive, as does this guide to clothing drives by community groups and this guide on organizing a clothing drive in your office. Alternatively, you can follow these simple steps:

Step 1: Obtain permission to use the space where you plan to locate your collection boxes or event.

Step 2: Contact a charitable agency, such as The Salvation Army or Goodwill, to arrange a suitable date and time for the pickup of your collected donation.

Step 3: Secure prizes such as toys, frequent flyer miles, or an extra vacation day that would motivate clothing and shoe donations from your potential audience. Check with your employer and local merchants, who would get positive publicity for their participation.

Step 4: Publicize a donation valuation guide for tax deduction purposes.

Step 5: Have fun advertising your collection drive with signs and unique displays! The more appealing your advertisement, the more your community can make a difference for those in need.

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