Clothing Donation

by Deborah Mitchell
The Challenge

Clothing donations are needed by many of the estimated 3.5 million people homeless people, 1.35 million of whom are children, living in the United States. But the need doesn't end there: the National Center for Children in Poverty notes that about 32.4 million children living in low-income families and 16.1 million living in poor families—and their parents—could also benefit from donated clothes. As the number of families losing their homes rises, so does the need for donated clothing.

Clothing donations to qualified charitable organizations are tax deductible.

For tax deduction purposes, Goodwill Industries and The Salvation Army publish guidelines for the valuation of donated items, including clothing and shoes.

Clothing-donation needs include: school clothes, coats and other cold-weather accessories, professional clothing for employment interviews, and shoes, which wear out quickly and must be replaced often, especially among growing children.

Donated clothes are critical for mothers and young children who must flee their homes because of domestic violence or abuse. Often these women and children leave under dangerous circumstances with only the clothes on their backs.

Clothes donations are also especially needed by homeless veterans. Approimately 13 percent of homeless adults are veterans, with more joining their ranks from the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars.

Clothing donations should be clean, undamaged, and reasonably wrinkle-free. Clothing can be folded and packed in sturdy boxes or bags; avoid hangers. Items that come in pairs (shoes, gloves, socks) should be kept together (shoe laces can be tied together, gloves and socks can be stuffed inside each other). Pockets should be emptied and any belts should be securely fastened to their appropriate items.

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Get a tax deduction by donating clothes that do not fit anymore:

  • The Salvation Army, Vietnam Veterans of America, and the Military Order of the Purple Heart will pick up clothing, shoes, and household items from most locations in the United States. If you don't have a lot of items, you may want to ask friends, neighbors, and coworkers if they would like to make a clothing and shoe donation as well. The Salvation Army and Goodwill Industries both have drop-off locations for your clothing donations and other items. Some Big Brother Big Sister facilities accept donated clothing and shoes as well. (Fill in your zip code to contact the facilities near you to see if they take donations.)
  • Check with schools and day care centers in your area. Many of these facilities have family centers that collect clothing and shoes for students who are in need.
  • If you live or work in an area where you have access to homeless people, you can offer clothing and shoes to them personally.
  • Donate Your Old Shoes, Give Your Sole, and Soles4Souls are nonprofits that collect gently used shoes for children and adults in need.
  • If you have clothing suitable for women who have special needs, see Hand-Me-Down Used Clothing for Women.

Your clothing donation can make a big difference in the lives of children and adults in need. For tax purposes, you should keep a list of the clothing you donate. Donation centers usually give you a tax receipt, but if you mail your clothing or shoe donation to a charity, also send a self-addressed, stamped envelope so it can send you a receipt. Shipping costs are tax deductible as well.

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