Toys bring joy to the lives of children and even adults, however quite often the allure of certain toys gradually fades, especially as new toys are released and children start to grow up.
As their interests change you may find that your child no longer plays with many of their favorite toys anymore, and this can leave you stuck with a massive amount of surplus toys and no idea what to do with them!
A lot of the time toys that are perfectly usable and in great condition get thrown away, and this is a real shame particularly in these environmentally conscious times.
While facing a huge pile of unused toys can be daunting and the desire to be rid of the clutter incredibly powerful, there are great alternatives to simply throwing away these toys, and the beauty of these different ideas is that they help spread joy, fun, and happiness to people who may not be able to afford such a wide variety of toys or who never got the chance to play with certain toys before!
In this list, we’re going to highlight several great ways to put that dusty old toy pile to good use, spreading happiness and decluttering both your home and your mind!
If you’re someone who has a seriously large toy problem, it’s a good idea to make a record of where you donate your toys so that you can keep track of where you’ve been sending them.
This will help you to spread the load and help out a bunch of different charities and organizations, as well as individuals, without overwhelming them and spreading the love to as many people as possible!
Without further ado, let’s get into the list!
One of the best places you can donate your toys is to a local hospital, which will often put them to use calming down and entertaining young patients while they’re hospitalized.
This is lovely as there’s no doubt that a hospital stay is one of the most boring and upsetting experiences, so giving the children something fun to do is very worthwhile.
Just make sure to check ahead with the hospital to make sure they’re able to accept your donation, as some hospitals will be concerned about the risk of infection to both you and the patients.
If you’re going to do this make sure to clean your toys well also, to be extra safe!
The Salvation Army is one of the world’s biggest charities and they work on a variety of difficult issues, from humanitarian issues to disaster relief and even homelessness.
When you donate your toys here they will likely be resold and the funds used to support all sorts of programs from rehabilitation to food programs and many other projects the Salvation Army organizes and is involved with!
Goodwill provides a range of services, from employability training to job placements and a host of other programs that help people to rebuild or get started in their lives and become financially independent when they’ve struggled to do so through the normal means.
They support people from all walks of life, from recovering addicts to the homeless, and much like the Salvation Army, Goodwill will often sell your donated toys to fund much-needed support for some of the most in need people in society.
As always, make sure to call ahead particularly if you have a large donation to make.
This is a little bit of a different option but is a great choice if you’re not sure about your toys being resold.
Daycare centers are a great place to donate as there are many young children here who will make the most of any and all new toys that appear, and of course, as children often break toys, new replacements are always needed.
If you want to donate, make sure to call ahead and make sure they can accept the donation, and follow any guidelines they have about what they can take and what they can’t
Shelters are another very worthwhile place to consider donating toys as they’re often overlooked and children will regularly end up here with very little to pass the time and entertain themselves.
These environments aren’t often very good for children so giving them something positive to focus on is a great thing to do, and can help distract them from whatever traumatic experience has landed them and their carers in this situation.
New toys can help calm children down also, and for children in shelters, they can help reduce anxiety and fear while surrounded by strangers in an unfamiliar environment.
You can donate to your local shelter by looking them up in a directory or looking for information online.
Thrift Stores/Charity Shops
There are a lot of charity shops and thrift stores around which aren’t tied to major charities, but still, give access to cheaper products for people who don’t have the means to buy brand new products.
New toys can be prohibitively expensive, but thrift stores make them much more accessible, and giving your toys to these stores can also net you a little bit of cash or store credit so you can recoup some of your own costs if that’s important to you.
The great thing about this is that it also encourages people to not buy new and to recycle and reuse older toys.
Children’s homes are often the last refuge of some of the most abused and neglected children in society.
A lot of children end up in these homes for a variety of reasons and they are places that are always in need of new and replacement toys.
There are also a range of ages in these homes, so you’re able to donate all kinds of toys if you have a mixture of age-appropriate toys.
It’s quite easy to search for your local home, but make sure to get in touch first to make sure they’re able to take your donation.
Vietnam Veterans of America
If you’re interested in supporting veterans with your pile of old toys, you can!
The VVoA is a nonprofit organization that helps to support the needs of veterans all over the US, and they don’t receive any funding from the government so it relies completely on donations both financial, material, and in effort.
The toys you donate here will be sold to raise funds to support veterans and their often complex needs.
You can also organize for your toys to be picked up which is a great choice if you’re unable to transport your toys yourself but still want to donate them.
Military Support Groups
Military support groups support families who have to relocate due to military service, which can be a traumatic experience for children that often leaves many toys and possessions behind.
These groups can help children get used to their new home more easily and there are other ways you can donate to these groups, just search Operation Homefront to learn more.
Doctors’ offices will often accept donations of toys to be used in their waiting rooms to keep bored children from misbehaving and can even be used as a distraction or reward by doctors when attending to children.
While they may not be able to accept huge donations, if you’ve got a small donation this could be a good option, but as always with these sorts of environments call ahead to make sure they can take the donation because there are of course sanitary concerns with medical environments that need to be considered.
Stuffed Animals for Emergencies
If you have stuffed animals that aren’t getting the love they used to, you could consider donating them to Stuffed Animals for Emergencies.
This is a not-for-profit organization that provides stuffed animals to children who are going through a very difficult or traumatic moment, such as an operation, an ambulance ride, or even natural disasters such as flooding and storms.
This organization also accepts other items such as books, children’s clothing, and various baby items so make sure to check for these items and get in touch to make a valued donation!
Ronald McDonald House
Ronald McDonald House is a very special charity that helps families who need a place to stay while their children are in hospital.
Trying to find accommodation near hospitals during an emergency can be very difficult, stressful and often little details like entertainment can make everyone’s life a little easier in these situations.
You can contact your local branch to see if they accept toys and if so, you can donate them knowing they will be providing comfort to people going through a very tragic and painful time.
Toys for Tots
Toys for Tots is a program run by the USMC Reserve that helps to provide toys to needy children.
You may have heard of this as it’s often popular around the Winter holidays when big drives to provide new toys are undertaken to help make children’s Christmas special, however, they are able to accept donations year around too.
You can quite easily head to their website and find a local chapter to donate your old or lightly used toys to.
Churches often host children for daycares or during church events, and they are often in need of toys to help entertain children.
Contact the church to find out if they accept donations and to get instructions of how to drop them off.
Schools, particularly schools with kindergartens or nurseries often need toys to entertain children if they’re unable to play outside.
School budgets are often very tight, so helping out by providing some toys for children to use is a great way to support your local community.
This company runs various recycling programs and even has a partnership with one of the world’s biggest toy manufacturers, Hasbro, to recycle used toys and games.
This is a free program that will accept all Hasbro toys and games even if they‘re broken or in poor condition.
Relatives and Friends
Finally, don’t be afraid to enquire among family and friends, particularly if they’re expecting, as this is a great way to pass on toys which are sentimental and can provide new joy to a whole new generation!