A Guide to Donating This Holiday Season in Westchester

This  is a guest post by Haley Kieser

All over the country, there are families who are less fortunate. They struggle to decorate their homes, give their children gifts, and make big meals for their loved ones. Fortunately, we can help. By sorting through our belongings, we can get rid of what we no longer need. Throughout Westchester County, there are donation centers. They are eager to accept gently used belongings and pass them on to local families in need.

Make your holiday season a time of gratitude and giving by going through your home and gathering items for donation. Here are some tips on how to sort your things and decide what should stay and what should go:

Clothes

Each member of your family is sure to have many clothes they no longer need. Set aside an afternoon with each of your children to go through their clothing. Get rid of anything they don’t wear or have grown out of. Along with personal closets, don’t forget to tackle dresser drawers, shoes, and the coat closet.

Stay organized by making two different piles for the items that won’t be put back into the closet. One pile should be for clothes that have stains, holes, and other signs of heavy wear. These items should be thrown away. Make another pile of clothes that are gently used and suitable for donation. Here are a few places where your old clothes will get better use:

Once you’ve decided which clothing items will stay, use this opportunity to get organized (If you need help, let us know!). Make sure you have a good wardrobe system in which all clothing items are easy to see. This will make it clear which items each family member actually wears and which should be donated next year.

Toys

Toys are one of the best things to donate during the holiday season. Use this as an opportunity to teach your children the importance of generosity by encouraging them to give to others.

Make sure your children feel involved in the donation process by choosing a charity together. Westchester County is home to nationwide donation centers like Goodwill and Salvation Army or locally based donation centers like Big Brothers Big Sisters.

To decide which items to donate, go through your children’s toys together. Be sure to keep an eye out for broken toys that aren’t worth donating and wash any stuffed animals you plan to get rid of. Once all the items are ready for donation, invite your children to load up a box and deliver them with you.

Electronics

The job of going through electronics often falls on parents as we tend to hold on to old cell phones, laptop, computers, and televisions we no longer need. Make space in your storage room by finally getting rid of the outdated technology you have no use for.

Goodwill Donation Centers accept electronics and often refurbishes donated items so they are suitable for resale. If you have any questions about whether or not an item is worth donating, always call a local Goodwill before throwing it away.

With larger electronics, like televisions and bulky, old stereo equipment, it may be best to contract someone to haul it for you. If you decide on a junk removal service, ensure they have policies in place to donate and recycle before tossing everything!

Decor

Each holiday season is a new opportunity to clean out your decorations. As you deck the halls and dress the tree, be sure to pay attention to the items you may be holding on to that are outdated or you no longer use.

If there are decorations that have been sitting in your storage room or garage for several years, there’s a good chance another family will get better use out of them. Instead of leaving these items tucked away for another holiday season, collect them along with your other items for donation.

Food

One of the areas of the home that goes without regular organization is the pantry. Before your next big holiday dinner, spend some time sorting through your pantry to maximize your space and get rid of the items you no longer need.

One of the best ways to ensure your pantry and cabinets stay organized is by designating zones for different types of food. Keep fresh ingredients in one area and canned goods in another. Baking essentials should have their own space and dry goods like rice, pasta, quinoa, should also stay together. Organize your food based on type and you’ll be sure to see what you have an abundance of.

If your pantry is overflowing with canned veggies and fruit, pasta, canned meat, and dairy products (fresh, canned, or powdered), you can donate these items to a local food bank in order to feed people in need. Look online to find a donation center near you or consider taking your extra goods to Feeding Westchester, a nonprofit dedicated to ending hunger in Westchester County.

By going through your belonging this holiday season, you will not only enter the new year with a more organized home, you will spread holiday cheer to local families in need. Use this as an opportunity to teach your children the importance of helping others, ask for their help, and make donating a family affair. This activity is sure to bring you closer, foster an environment of gratitude, and make meaningful memories you’ll cherish for years to come!

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