Illustration of GTA map with various points marked

Illustrations By Leeandra Cianci



5 places to donate new or used toys in Toronto and the GTA

Spring cleaning Marie Kondo–style? Rehome your kids’ previously loved playthings for a good cause

Maybe you’ve just finished binge-watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix, or you’re the passionate spring cleaning type. Either way, there’s a good chance that decluttering is on your mind. It’s a hot topic because, if we’re being honest, most of us have a lot more junk crowding our homes than we’d like to admit—especially in our kids’ rooms. But you don’t have to toss extra toys in the trash. Why not donate them to a charity instead, where they can have a second life and spark joy for a child in need?

Cathy Wright, manager at the East End Children’s Centre (EECC) in Toronto, says it’s important to donate toys to organizations like EECC because “small organizations very often don’t have enough budget to replace equipment as often as they’d like or need to.” Clients at the centre can “get a lot more play out of these things,” she says.

A couple of guidelines: If you’re looking to donate previously loved toys, avoid items that are broken or missing pieces. “If it’s an activity that requires all of its pieces, then all of those pieces should be there,” says Wright. “A child who is doing a puzzle wants to finish it.” And most, if not all, donation centres will not take stuffed animals or baby gear for health and safety reasons. If you’re unsure about what you can and cannot donate, call or email ahead to check.

If you’re giving to a family centre or a women’s shelter, choose educational games and toys that can stand up to the wear and tear of being used by multiple children every day. “Toys with small pieces, like Lego, should be avoided due to the choking hazard they pose for infants and toddlers,” says Wright.

There are a number of places where you can bring your used toy donations, from local churches to daycares to neighbourhood recycling programs. To get you started, here are five options across Toronto and the GTA.

Illustration of GTA map with various points marked

East End Children’s Centre
Where: 200 Wolverleigh Blvd., Toronto
How to donate: Bring gently used or new toys to the Wolverleigh Blvd. location from Monday to Friday, between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. You can also drop off donations on Tuesday afternoons, between 4 and 6 p.m. (September through June only); Thursdays, between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m.; and Saturdays, between 9:30 a.m. and 12 p.m.
Who it helps: The East End Children’s Centre (EECC) has two locations, where parents, grandparents, guardians and caregivers can spend time and play with their child or infant while connecting with other parents—free of charge. Donated toys are most often used by children during playtime at the centre; any unused ones go to EECC’s used toy sales, which raise funds for the free programs it offers in the community.

Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter
Where: Etobicoke
How to donate: Ernestine’s accepts new and unused toy donations every Tuesday and Thursday. Send an email with the full details of your donation to Khadija Kathy Ali at khadija@ernestines.ca to arrange a drop-off. (Note: Ernestine’s does not publish the location of its shelter for safety and privacy reasons.)
Who it helps: Ernestine’s, which is supported by United Way, provides support and shelter for women and children escaping domestic violence. On average, 22 babies, children and youth reside in the shelter at a time. All of them celebrate their birthdays while they live there and receive donated toys as gifts. Ernestine’s also gives excess toys to the 100 families that visit their food bank and donations area.

Salvation Army Thrift Store
Where: Locations across the GTA
How to donate: Visit the website to find the thrift store or drop bin nearest to you. For larger toys, you can arrange a pick-up (in certain areas) by calling 1-888-333-1229 or emailing donate@tstore.com.
Who it helps: Proceeds raised from thrift store sales support a variety of charities and community initiatives, including Salvation Army shelters, addiction programs and kids’ summer camps. Six million dollars in donated items are given to people in need annually, across Canada.

Illustration of GTA map with various points marked

Talize Brampton
Where: 547 Steeles Ave. E., Brampton
How to donate: You can drop off used toys and books at any of Talize’s 11 stores across the GTA, including their Brampton location near Steeles Ave. and Kennedy Rd. They are open Monday to Saturday, between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., and Sundays, between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Who it helps: By donating to Talize, you will help keep toys and books out of landfills and give them a second life. You’ll also be contributing to Children’s Wish Foundation—Talize has raised $2 million for the charity since 2005.

Diabetes Canada
Where: Arrange for a pick-up from home
How to donate: Diabetes Canada will collect sealed boxes (40 pounds maximum) of used toys and games from your house or apartment. Visit the website and enter your address, choose your pick-up time and print out donation labels. Then simply leave the labelled box outside your front door or in the lobby of your building for pick-up. Alternatively, you can drop off donations at your nearest Diabetes Canada office or Value Village.
Who it helps: Proceeds raised from donations help Diabetes Canada invest $5 million annually in diabetes research. They also helps 2,400 kids with type one diabetes and their families go to D-Camps for an authentic camp experience in a safe and supportive environment.

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