Organize a used clothing drive to help those in need

Clear space in your closet and put those old clothes to good use

Clearing your closet of old clothes doesn't mean a trip to the trash heap. Organize a used clothing drive to make that space, and help those in need.

Before your clothing (and/or homewares) drive begins:

  • Build a network: Decide where your team will collect clothing and/or household items. Good locations include the office, small retail businesses, and local schools. Each team member can choose one location to target. At each location ask for approval (see attached letter) and locate boxes in a highly visible area.
  • Select items to be collected: Often, people donate household items that an organization may not have a use for or children’s clothing to an organization that only serves adults. The organization(s) you’re serving may have specific guidelines about the clothing and household items they do and do not accept. Be sure to check in with them before starting your collection. Decide in consultation with your local services organization(s) which items will be collected and try to steer your contributions towards these goals. For example, if professional clothing for job interviews is particularly useful, try to encourage the donation of these articles.
  • Organize logistics: A good clothing (and/or housewares) drive lasts two-three weeks.  The materials you will need include boxes, storage space for collected items, and flyers.
  • Plan a kick-off event: Kick-off your clothing (and/or housewares) drive with an event! You can host a party and ask each attendee to bring an item for donation. You can partner with your faith group to request clothing and/or household items at service. Consider alerting local media.

During your clothing/housewares drive:

  • Consider incentives: Motivate your friends and co-workers to donate by creating a competition or organizing a raffle.  Keep track of which location gathers the most items.  Record which individual contributes the most items.  Recognize the donors with certificates or awards.
  • Spread the word: Decide how people will be encouraged to participate.  The most successful way to gather clothing or household items is to ask your personal network to contribute.  These requests will be most successful when made in person or by phone.  Flyers and emails are useful, but less successful.

After your clothing/housewares drive ends:

  • Sort your items: Go through your collections and sort the items according to the organization's guidelines.  Count the number of boxes full of clothes and/or household items you've collected.
  • Celebrate: Share the total number of boxes you collected with all of your participants.  Thank your participants.  Consider how you could do it better next time.  Plan your next drive!

Some tips to get you started:

  • New or gently used clothing, new toiletries/personal hygiene items, or home furnishings for the clients of homeless service organizations.
  • Service providers themselves may find items such as kitchen utensils, furniture, books, toys, games, stuffed animals, dolls, diapers, etc. useful.
  • Remember: the best way to organize a successful drive is to first contact your local service organization and find out what types of items they need and have the capacity to accept.

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