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Illustrations By Louise Reimer

15 surprising places to donate your gently used stuff

There’s a do-good destination for almost everything in your donation pile

Few things are as satisfying as a freshly purged closet—or as guilt inducing as the pile of stuff sitting next to it. Impulse-buy home decor, once-worn cocktail dresses, teetering stacks of books…. Where’s it all going to go? And how can you make sure it’ll go to someone who could really use it?

Luckily, there are plenty of local organizations beyond the usual big-name donation spots that would welcome your gently used items, including those suits from your old job and that barely-used Dutch oven from your Julie & Julia phase.

Here are a few under-the-radar places to check out in the GTA. (Our advice: Call ahead to bricks-and-mortar destinations, as storage space can be limited and most-needed items change regularly.)

Furniture Bank Toronto

Furniture Bank Toronto helps transitioning and at-risk individuals make their spaces feel like home. Drop off good-condition furnishings yourself, or call to arrange pick-up—in Toronto, Mississauga, Oakville and parts of York Region—for a nominal fee. (The service employs those with limited job opportunity.)

Elizabeth Fry Society

Pass on a winter coat or a box of extra toiletries to this Brampton organization, which supports women in conflict with the law by providing essential programming and resources.

colourful illustration of piles of books plants and a cat

Children’s Book Bank

Bookshelf overflowing with YA fiction? Consider donating to this Regent Park-based book bank, which distributes thousands of books and literacy materials to children in low-income communities each year.

JRCC Furniture Depot

Another great spot to bring an unused bed frame or sturdy desk, this Thornhill depot helps low-income, newcomer and transitioning families outfit their homes with all the essentials.

New Circles

New Circles’ Prom Boutique in North York lets students in financial need put together outfits free of charge, so it’s the perfect destination for your formal wear, shoes and unused makeup.

Free Geek Toronto

Hand over your retired laptop to this social enterprise, which provides job training and employment for people living with mental illness and diverts e-waste and supports the community by refurbishing gadgets for resale to students and job-hunters looking for affordable tech.

Markham’s Textile Recycling Program Bins

The City of Markham’s innovative—and charitable—bin rollout has kept millions of pounds of textiles out of landfills. Look out for their regulated receptacles, which have also helped curb the city’s “rogue” (read: for-profit) bin problem.

Pegasus Thrift Store

Support hands-on programs for adults with autism and other special needs by donating clothing, household items and books to this East York second-hand shop.

Jessie’s Swap Shop

Closet overflowing with outgrown maternity clothes or baby furniture? Consider donating to Jessie’s: The June Callwood Centre for Young Women in Toronto, where items are passed along to mothers in need.

10 Mississauga Furniture Bank

Downsizers and serial decorators in Peel and Halton regions are invited to bring their gently used furniture, especially compact or apartment-sized pieces, to this local nonprofit.

11 Evolve Clothing and Evolve Lifestyle

Drop off gently used clothing and furnishings at Evolve Clothing and Evolve Lifestyle stores, where proceeds directly fund community services in the Caledon area.

12 CAMH Suits Me Fine

A range of garments and toiletries donated by community members, staff and local businesses fill this welcoming Queen Street boutique, which all CAMH clients are welcome to shop free of charge.

13 STEPS

Give small appliances, dishes and clothing new life by popping them in a STEPS donation bin, which are located throughout the northern GTA. The collection program also provides work experience for individuals in treatment for addiction.

14 Dress Your Best

Like the women’s organization Dress for Success, downtown Toronto-based Dress Your Best helps men suit up for job interviews. Bring in blazers, belts and shoes that will ensure a stylish first impression.

15 Major retailers (really!)

Major brands including The North FaceUniqlo and H&M will accept clothing for recycling or donation (either their own pieces or any pieces).