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Now What? Where to Donate Used Clothes
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Now What? Where to Donate Used Clothes

Picture of Haley Harrington
Updated: 9 February 2017
You are standing just inside the doorway of your room. Maybe your hands are on your hips. There’s a little exhaustion in the line of your shoulder, but you’re proud of yourself as you survey the tidy space you have just finished thoroughly cleaning. Behind you are the bags full of the things you don’t wear anymore, the gifts you never really liked in the first place, and the things you can’t remember buying or why you did. So what are you going to do with it all? Donate it.
Free the Need Volunteers © Free the Need
Free the Need Volunteers | © Free the Need

There are many fantastic organizations in the bay area, both secular and not, that are looking for clothing donations. Some distribute directly to those in need, while others sell the donations in thrift stores and use proceeds to help. There are some that are looking for a specific category – for instance, women’s business attire or children’s winter gear. This article will focus on 5 secular organizations that accept all clothing.

Free the Need

In an effort to reduce waste and improve the lives of bay area families, Free the Need collects surplus goods. It is an all-volunteer organization that has been working to break the chain of poverty since 1989. They offer both a food and a clothing program to support those in need. After clothes have been donated, they are distributed either to families during the food giveaways or to women’s and children’s assistance agencies and agencies. To arrange a donation, call or email them at ftn@freetheneed.org.

Free the Need, 827 Joost Ave, San Francisco, CA, USA +1 (415) 587-6685

Entrance © Hope Services Thrift Store
Entrance | © Hope Services Thrift Store

Hope Services

This non-profit works to better the lives of those with developmental disabilities. They offer a variety of services including work opportunities, instructional class, recreational programs, and mental health services. They also support a number of businesses on top of the thrift store, including a production center, recycling services, and a bike store. The proceeds from Hope Services Thrift Store go directly towards providing the aforementioned services.

Hope Station Thrift Store, 37482 Fremont Blvd, Fremont, CA, USA +1 (510) 795-6100

Inside the thrift store © Out of the Closet Thrift
Inside the thrift store | © Out of the Closet Thrift

Out of the Closet

In addition to running a thrift store, Out of the Closet provides free, confidential HIV testing and pharmaceutical services. Ninety-six cents of every dollar spent at either the thrift store or the pharmacy is donated to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a global non-profit that provides compassionate care and patient advocacy, as well as free testing and help with medications. They have stores in multiple states and three Bay Area locations – two in San Francisco and one in Berkeley.

Out of the Closet Thrift Stores

1295 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA, USA +1 (415) 558-7176

1498 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA, USA +1 (415) 771-1503

Front of store © Community Thrift
Front of store | © Community Thrift

1600 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA, USA +1 (510) 841-2088

Community Thrift

In a similar model to Out of the Closet, Community Thrift accepts clothing donations and sells them, and then donates the profits. When a buyer is checking out, they pick the charity they would like the proceeds to benefit. And their choices are far from limited – Community Thrift works with over 200 Bay Area charities that range from Zen Hospice Project to Suicide Prevention to California Poets in the Schools, and much, much more. Anyone can also donate to their partners through Community Thrift’s site or store.

Community Thrift Store, 623 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 (415) 861-4910

Clothes that are beyond usability can be turned into shop rags © Richard Masoner
Clothes that are beyond usability can be turned into shop rags | © Richard Masoner

United Textile Co.

Sometimes, clothes are used beyond the point of usability. Who wants an old tube sock? Or a t-shirt so threadbare it might fall to pieces in the next wash? Try United Textile Co. Here, clothes are sorted though and anything that is no longer sellable is recycled to make wiping cloths. Converting textiles into clean-up products keeps millions of pounds of material out of landfills every year.

United Textile Inc, 14275 Catalina Street, San Leandro, CA, USA +1 (510) 276-2288