Give Old Items a Second Life

By: Marilyn Dickey

While many people opt to make repairs on cherished possessions—reupholster an old sofa or spiff up a leather bag—others choose to say goodbye to the item.

Lots of organizations in the Washington area take donations of everything from clothing to bicycles to cell phones and give them to those in need. While some charities, such as Goodwill, are well known for accepting donations, here are a few lesser-known groups that look for specific items.

For a broader list of charities looking for donations, see the Charitable Choices Web site.

Bicycles

Bikes for the World, a project of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, refurbishes donated bikes and sends most of them to developing countries, where they are given to people who need them for transportation; some of the bikes are given to people in need in the United States.

A $10 donation is requested to help pay for overseas shipping. For a list of donation events as well as bike stores that accept donations, go here and click on “collection schedule.”

Clothing

Two organizations—Suited for Change and Dress for Success—take donations of business clothing for women.

Suited for Change (1010 Vermont Ave., NW, Suite 900; 202-293-0351) takes clothing on hangars by appointment only. Crest Cleaners accepts donations for Dress for Success, cleaning the items for free and delivering them to the charity. For locations, go to crestcleaners.com. Or you can drop off clothing on hangars by appointment at Dress for Success (101 Q St., NE; dressforsuccess.org); call 202-269-4805 for an appointment.

Menzfit (3933 Minnesota Ave., NE; 202-396-2050) seeks men’s business clothes appropriate for job interviews, such as suits, blazers, shirts, ties, and shoes. The organization helps men who are ex-offenders, homeless, former substance abusers, disabled, veterans, or on public assistance.

Cell Phones

Secure the Call is a nonprofit organization that refurbishes donated cell phones and programs them so they can make only 911 calls. Donations of phones with chargers and other accessories are ideal, but the group also takes cell phones or accessories alone.

The phones are given to those who can’t afford one, including victims of domestic abuse and the elderly. The organization collects phones through drop boxes across the country at Whole Foods, police and fire stations, and other locations. To find a drop box near you, call 301-891-2900.

Electronics

The Recycling Business Group accepts donations of electronics; it refurbishes those that can be repaired and resells them. Those that can’t be repaired are mined for their components using environmentally safe methods, and the parts are recycled. The group is part of a government agency called Federal Prison Industries, which employs inmates to do the work. There’s a $10 fee to drop off newer televisions that are 19 inches or larger but no charge for any other electronics. To arrange to drop off equipment, call Janice Aragon at 202-305-3768.

United Way of the National Capital Area coordinates donations of electronics that are in working order and offers them to charities in the area. Donations are accepted by appointment only at several locations; e-mail inkinddonations@uwnca.org to arrange a time and place.

Eyeglasses

Lions Clubs take donations of eyeglasses—prescription or nonprescription—which are then cleaned, sorted, and shipped all over the world.

Local clubs have drop-off boxes in banks, libraries, and other public places as well as optometrists’ and ophthalmologists’ offices.

Or you can mail them to Lions Eyeglass Recycling Center of Northern Virginia, 212 N. West St., Falls Church 22046. For guidelines on how to ship them, click here. If you want proof of your donation for a tax deduction, include a note containing your address and requesting a receipt.

For details, call 703-241-7004.

Furniture and Other Household Items

A Wider Circle helps people moving out of women’s and family shelters as well as others in need by providing them with household basics. The nonprofit welcomes donations of the following items if they’re in good shape: beds, dressers, tables and chairs, lamps, fans, air-conditioning units, baby items, kitchen supplies, towels and bedding, vacuum cleaners, and baskets.

You can drop off items at the storage facility (9159-C Brookville Rd., Silver Spring) Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 10 to 1. Or contact the administrative office at 301-608-3504 or contact@awidercircle.org to arrange a pickup.

Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County ReStore (9110 Gaither Rd., Gaithersburg; 301-947-3304; on the Web, click on “ReStore”) takes donations of furniture, functional appliances, bathroom fittings, mirrors, solid doors, cabinets, tools, hardware, unused flooring, and much of what you’d find at a construction site (see Web site for do’s and don’ts). Items are sold to the public, and the proceeds go to Habitat for Humanity, which builds houses for those in need. The store can arrange pickups.

Furs

The Humane Society of the United States has a Coats for Cubs program that accepts donations of genuine furs, which it then sends to wildlife-rehabilitation programs across the United States and Canada. The furs are used to comfort animals that have been injured or orphaned. The program doesn’t use fake furs; if you’re not sure if yours is real, you can send it to the program, but it won’t be returned.

Coats can be mailed to or dropped off at the Humane Society of the United States, 2100 L St., NW, DC 20037, attn. Coats for Cubs.

To claim a tax deduction, include a note containing your e-mail or mailing address and a request for an acknowledgement.

For details, contact Sarah Perelstein at 301-721-6434 or sperelstein@hsus.org.

Musical Instruments

The Levine School of Music accepts donations of musical instruments; over the years, it’s received everything from a Steinway piano to a used accordion. The school refurbishes pianos and stringed instruments to lend to children who participate in its community music programs.

To make a donation, contact Angie Fraser at afraser@levineschool.org or 202-686-8000 ext. 1051.

Sheets, Blankets, Towels

The Montgomery County Animal Shelter accepts donations of towels, sheets, pillowcases, comforters, blankets, mattress pads, and pieces of carpet. The charity uses them to make dog kennels and cat cages more comfortable, among other uses. Donations of pet food and pet toys are also welcome. You can deliver items to the Montgomery County Animal Shelter (14645 Rothgeb Dr., Rockville). For details, visit their Web site or call 240-773-5960.

The Animal Welfare League of Arlington (703-931-9241) needs towels and blankets as well as cat carriers and dog crates, bleach and Clorox cleaning wipes, and peanut butter for dog training. Drop off donations at 2650 S. Arlington Mill Dr., Arlington.

Sporting Goods

DC Little League takes donations of gently used baseball equipment such as gloves, balls, bases, bats, helmets, catcher’s gear, and kids’ cleats. Call Paris Inman, DC Little League district administrator, at 301-674-2003 to arrange a time to drop off donations at the Guy Mason Recreation Center (3600 Calvert St., NW).

Or you can donate to Pitch In for Baseball (1901 Pennsylvania Ave., Fort Washington, Pa. 19034; 215-371-2841), which collects youth gloves, cleats, aluminum bats, catcher’s gear, instructional books and videos, and items such as batting tees. Donated goods are distributed within the United States (including to DC Little League) and to other countries.

You can donate new or barely used racquets and other tennis gear, by appointment only, to the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center (701 Mississippi Ave., SE). Call the Recreation Wish List Committee at 202-678-7530 to arrange to make a donation.