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Furniture Donation Tips: Help Needy Families

by Deborah Mitchell
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Furniture donation is especially critical for low income families who are forced to make difficult choices between buying food, furniture, prescription drugs, children's clothes, or school supplies.

If you have furniture or household items that no longer fit your lifestyle, but are still useable, there are literally millions of people who could use your furniture donation.

When you donate furniture and household items, they not only get a second chance, they can also give the recipients a feeling of security, comfort, and home. Your furniture donation, for example, can help formerly homeless people who are transitioning to housing, the working poor who don't have enough income left over after paying for necessities, elderly people on fixed incomes, abused women who leave their situation and seek new shelter, families who have lost possessions or their homes to fire or other disasters, struggling college students, refugees from war-torn countries who resettle in the United States, and people who have lost their jobs.

Your sofa donation may mean a child does not have to sleep on the floor; a kitchen table and chairs may mean a family can eat together; a desk gives a child a place to do homework; a blender means an elderly person can better prepare meals. Your furniture donation is not only good for people; donated furniture also stays out of our overflowing landfills. Learn how you can make a difference with your furniture donation today.

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Some organizations will pick up donated furniture and household items, while others ask you to drop them off. It may be inconvenient or even impossible for you to transport your donated furniture (not everyone has an appropriate vehicle or the help necessary to move such items), and it is also true that some worthy organizations do not always have the extra funds and/or volunteer power to make pickups. If you want to donate furniture to an organization that cannot pick up your donation, you may want to ask family members, friends, neighbors, or coworkers for assistance. Perhaps they will have furniture to donate as well!

  • Contact the National Furniture Bank Association to see if there is a local affiliate near you. The National Furniture Bank Association is a network of facilities throughout the United States that collect and distribute used furniture and household items to people in need.
  • Charities that typically provide pickup service for donated furniture and household items (as well as drop-off points) include Salvation Army, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, and Vietnam Vets of America (small furniture only) often have trucks that are scheduled to pick up in different locations. Call the Goodwill Industries facility in your area to see if they provide a furniture donation pickup service.
  • Contact churches in your area. Many either have furniture donation programs for needy individuals and families or know of people who can use furniture and household items.
  • Consider donating furniture to a homeless shelter, a battered women's shelter, or to a refugee resettlement program. You can find telephone numbers for these organizations in your local phone book (women's shelters will have a phone number but no address for security reasons), or contact your local United Way for information on groups in your area.
  • Local theater groups may need donated furniture for their sets and welcome donated props to help them defray costs.
  • Offer your items on an Internet-based group such as Freecycle or FreeShare. Both of these grassroots organizations offer individuals a forum for donating (and receiving) free items, including furniture and household goods. Together, there are more than 6,000 individual Freecycle or Freeshare communities in the United States and around the world. Registration and posting are free.
  • Post your furniture in the "Free" section of Craigslist in your area. Include a picture of the item if possible. Registration and posting are free.
  • If all else fails, you can put your donated furniture out on the curb and place a big "Free" sign on them. This furniture donation option should only be done in fair weather.

Please be courteous. Most nonprofits are not equipped to clean dirty upholstery or repair broken furniture or household items, so please only donate items that are usable, unless directed otherwise. If offering items on Freecycle, Freeshare, or Craigslist, let readers know if an item needs repair, as some people are willing to accept and fix them.

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