Before tossing your kids' old playthings, consider donating to one of these organizations.

By Jasmine Suarez
June 22, 2021
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toys and stuffed animals in donation box
Credit: artisteer / Getty Images

There's nothing quite like seeing the joy on a child's face when you gift them a new toy, but as they outgrow their favorite playthings, you'll most likely find yourself with a bunch of items taking up valuable storage space. Instead of throwing them away, consider donating toys to a child in need.

"It's not just a toy, it's hope," says Ted Silvester, VP of marketing development for the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. "If you're trying to make ends meet and you're a little down on your luck, buying presents might [be] the last thing you're thinking of when you're trying to cover rent, food, and basic bills. So a toy can be pretty impactful to a child." If you're thinking of donating used toys but don't know where to start, consider giving to one of these places.

National and Local Charities

Both national and local charities are great options to consider when looking to donate any used toys. One popular option is Toys for Tots, a well-known charity that gives toys to children in need and is run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve. "Toys for Tots also has a literacy program as well," says Silvester. "Last year, we distributed 1.8 million books to families in need to help break the cycle of poverty. The biggest barrier to child illiteracy is simply having access to books, so we're planning to double down and distribute around four or five million books this year."

Another option is Cradles to Crayons, which is devoted to giving low-income children toys and other necessities. Be sure to research local charities in your area, too.

Children's Homes and Shelters

If you want to make sure your used toys have plenty of children to love on them, then homes and shelters for children are an exceptional option. Even better, you can look up some children's local homes and shelters to ask if they're looking for toy donations in order to give back to the little ones in your own community.

Hospitals

Many hospitals accept used toy donations to share with young patients or even visitors, but be sure to ask about donation rules and guidelines before making the trip; they may have hygiene restrictions or other rules around what you can and cannot donate.

Fire Departments

Fighting fires is a dangerous job and sometimes it requires comforting scared children. A toy can be a great way to do that. If you want to contribute your child's gently used toys to this cause, connect with your local fire department or consider giving your items to Stuffed Animals for Emergencies (SAFE). This organization accepts gently used stuffed animals, blankets, books, children's clothes, and baby items, and then finds organizations in the area that can use the donations for youngsters who are experiencing distress.

Places of Worship

Churches, synagogues, and mosques have all been known to host several events within communities to give back to those in need, often giving out everything from food and clothing to toys for children. If you have a lot of toys to donate, call around to a few different places of worship to ask if and when they're accepting any toy donations.

Recycling Programs

Ultimately, if no one wants your toys or they're in bad shape, you should try to recycle them. Search online to find out whether you have any local recycling non-profits near you. Hasbro has partnered with Terracycle to accept donated used toys and games. They're then taken apart and processed into raw materials.

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