1. Donate used iPods to people suffering from Alzheimer’s.
Music and Memory collects music devices in order to make personalized playlists for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, which help to “tap deep memories not lost to dementia and can bring residents and clients back to life, enabling them to feel like themselves again, to converse, socialize and stay present.” Print out a prepaid package label here.
2. Trade in all kinds of recyclable material, like packaging, for charitable gifts that go to the organization of your choice.
Terracycle offers a huge range of programs for recycling everything from office supplies to candy wrappers to wine corks. Then, you receive points you can use to give money to the organizations you care about.
3. New or gently-used, sanitized makeup can be donated to victims of domestic violence.
Organizations like Give and Makeup accept all kinds of beauty essentials. They won’t take anything used that has an applicator (like mascara or lipgloss) and their basic rule is “if you would happily give it to a friend - we’ll take it!” Many local women’s shelters have similar policies; get in touch with one near you for more detailed information.
4. Sign up to donate books to U.S. soldiers looking for specific titles.
Register at Books for Soldiers to find out troops’ requests.
5. Familiarize yourself with your local Goodwill.
Chances are there’s a branch near you, where you can donate everything from clothing to home goods to electronics. And about 82 cents of every dollar the company makes goes to people in need, so you know you’re actually making a big impact.
6. Send baby items and toys to support a child living in poverty.
Room to Grow accepts new or nearly new baby items to help children “thrive during their critical first three years of life.” If you receive duplicate baby gifts or if your kid just never quite took to a certain toy or blanket or something, this is a wonderful way to ensure it goes to good use.
7. Give athletic shoes to runners who need them around the world.
Check out organizations like One World Running for information on how and where you can drop yours off, and on how to get involved.
8. Send gently used cell phones to members of the U.S. military.
Cell Phones for Soldiers provides means for deployed personnel to keep in touch with their loved ones; you can also donate calling cards to the cause.
9. Soles4Souls takes a two-pronged approach to donated clothes and shoes.
The organization redistributes these items to people in need, and also refurbishes them so they can be sold by developing small business owners. These “companies are contracted to provide shipping, financing, inventory, training and other support to ultra-small businesses in countries like Haiti where there are virtually no jobs to generate personal income.” Find out more about donating your items here.
10. Kids all around the country need Christmas presents.
Toys for Tots has been running for over 60 years to provide toys to children in need. There are tons of ways to get involved, from donating toys directly to running a drive to making a donation via eBay and giving the profits to the organization. And if you know of a kid who could use a gift, you can request one here.
11. Make charity a year-round, family activity.
Place a donation bin in kids’ bedrooms or the living room; when a toy or piece of clothing doesn’t seem like it’s getting much love anymore, encourage your child to put it in the bin so it can go on to make someone else happy.