Give & Receive: Where to Donate or Get Free Stuff in NYC

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NYC living spaces tend to be small. Add kids—and all of their stuff—and what do you have? No more room! If it’s time for some spring cleaning and you’re looking for somewhere to donate or sell unwanted items in NYC, you have plenty of options. From consignment shops that will give you cash for nearly-new kid’s clothes to civic programs that facilitate donating to non-profits, here’s our list of resources for helping you make a clean sweep! Plus, lots of ways to get stuff for free in NYC.

The Big Picture On Donating Things in NYC

Good news: there are many, many organizations that will take your stuff! We have several big players below, but know that city agency donateNYC has a vast database of places that will accept donations, many of which will pick up. Head to the donateNYC website where you can search by donation category and zip code to find places near you.

Online: nyc.gov

If you live in a building with 10 or more units, consider setting up a permanent donation bin on-site, through the city program refashionNYC, a free and convenient clothing donation and recycling service. The program’s partnership with Housing Works offers convenient collection while fighting the dual crises of homelessness and AIDS. It’s also available for businesses, office buildings, and schools.

Online: nyc.gov

Chrissy M. via Yelp 

Where to Donate Clothes, Toys & Household Goods

Out of the Closet

Established on the west coast and now operating numerous stores nationwide, Out of the Closet is a queer-friendly non-profit organization. At the NYC store in Boerum Hill, you'll find your usual fare of clothing and shoes, but also an amazing collection of furniture, books and vinyl records. Out of the Closet isn't just an excellent thrift store: It also has a pharmacy and offers sexual wellness assistance and HIV testing for free. For every dollar that you spend at the thrift store, 96 cents goes directly to patient and homeless care.

Small donations can be dropped off at the store. You can also schedule a large donation pick-up by calling 1-800-558-8220. To contact the store email info@outofthecloset.org. 

475 Atlantic Ave. 
718-637-2955
Boerum Hill
Online: outofthecloset.org

The Salvation Army 

The Salvation Army is one of the better-known charities and thrift store organizations in the country. It funds six free child care spaces in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens, and provides services to youth, adults, emergencies, and more. Items that you donate will directly help fund the Adult Rehabilitation Centers, where people can get help with drug and alcohol addictions. 

There are more than a dozen stores in NYC, and you can find one in every borough. Schedule a free donation pickup using their online form, which lets you specify what's being picked up and how much of it there is. Of course, you can also go to any location to drop off your donations. Accepted items include most clothing, appliances, and household goods. A visit to the Salvation Army thrift store is a great way to pick up some gently used clothes for a discount (every day has a discount on a different color tag) or some more unusual items like vintage dolls and lamps or an air fryer (an outlet is generally available to plug in appliances to make sure they work).

The Salvation Army also accepts donations of vehicles, from cars and motorcycles to boats and RVs. 

Online: satruck.org

Goodwill 

Goodwill is another well-known name for charity donations and thrifting. Items that are accepted include clothing, shoes, accessories, jewelry, handbags, and household goods. Your donations support community members who need assistance getting back on their feet and finding jobs. Want to see the difference your spring cleaning can make on the world? You can even calculate the impact you'll make when you donate

Although Goodwill does do pickups, the donation has to be substantial: A minimum of 50 bags or boxes is required. Despite this, the charity makes it as easy as possible to make donations. Goods can be brought to Goodwill locations or placed in Goodwill donation bins. The website suggests using TaskRabbit to bring in donations if you're unable to do so yourself (use promo code GWNYNJ-10 to get $10 off your first TaskRabbit order). A portion of the fee you pay will be donated to local nonprofits.

If you're looking to do some thrifting, Goodwill is an excellent place for picking up brand-name clothing for a more reasonable price. For the serious thrifter, here's a tip: Visit NYC's Goodwill Outlet at 47-47 Van Dam St. in Long Island City, Queens to buy goods by the pound. (It's true. But we recommend bringing gloves.)

Online: goodwillnynj.org

GrowNYC Greenmarket clothing collection 

GrowNYC will show up again on this list for their swap events, but you can also donate your clothing to the organization at any of its eight locations in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens. Only textile goods are accepted at these donation spots, including clothing, shoes, linens, handbags, belts, and other fabric and textile items. (Fabric rolls or scraps, rugs, pillows, comforters, and luggage are not accepted.)

Donations are sorted by condition, then either redistributed to secondhand markets or recycled as rags or low-grade fiber products like insulation — making this an excellent option for those items of clothing that don't qualify as "gently" used. 

Online: grownyc.org

BigReuse

Have an item that you don't need but someone else might? BigReuse, a non-profit dedicated to reducing waste, will take it! While you're welcome to donate small items like books, clothing, and small home goods at the Brooklyn location, free pickup can be scheduled for larger items. BigReuse accepts donations of appliances, home goods and decor, furniture, plumbing, media, lighting, kitchen fixtures, tiles, paint, lumber, tools, renovation supplies, and more. Note that you'll need to send a picture of the item(s) you're donating when you schedule a pickup. 

BigReuse also has a compost project, providing over a dozen places around the city where you can bring your scraps to add to the compost heap. 

1 12th St. 
718-725-8925
Gowanus
Online: bigreuse.org

St. Mary’s Clothing Drive

St. Mary’s Clothing Drive, run by St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Brooklyn, can’t make it any easier to donate clothes and other items. (Although you must be in the service area, which is mostly Brooklyn.) Just head to the website, schedule a pickup, label your bags and wait for them to whisk your donation away. (They even leave you a receipt.)

Online: stmarysclothingdrive.com

#GivingBackSundays

Exercise and donate to a good cause at this NJ event, held at the Hudson County Park Track in Bayonne. Held every month or so, this event starts with a HIIT session, then winds down with relaxing yoga. The workout is stress-free and features plenty of modifications for different levels of fitness. Where does the donation come in? Bring your gently used clothes to support the charity of the month! April's event is held in collaboration with Wear Love More, a startup clothing brand that focuses on creating sustainable clothing. All clothing will be donated to the Salvation Army of NJ.

Online: eventbrite.com

Mimi O’Connor

Kids’ Consignment Stores

While there used to be a lot more, there are still some places to sell kids (and maternity) clothes on consignment in NYC—not to mention get some good deals on clothes and other essentials. Every store has its own policies, pricing, desired items, etc., but some of our favorites include:

Jane’s Exchange in the East Village
Parachute Brooklyn in Greenpoint
Nova’s Arc in Park Slope
Owl Tree Kids  Carroll Gardens
Consignment4Kids online/Upper East Side

For An Easy Way to Consign Adult Clothes

ThredUp

Although it's not local, ThredUp provides you with an easy way to offload your old clothes without leaving the house — and get paid for it! This online thrift store provides secondhand high-quality, brand-name items for thrift store prices. When you request a donation kit, you'll receive a prepaid, addressed bag. Just fill it up and send it back, and ThredUp will do the rest. When an item you donate sells, you get a cut. Easy!

Online: thredup.com

Specialty Categories: Where to Donate Electronics, Books, Building Materials & Art Supplies

 

photo: Cottonbro via Pexels

Where To Donate Art Supplies

Materials for the Arts

Parents know how easy it is to accumulate random art supplies. Materials for the Arts (MFTA) is a great place to offload the art clutter from the various artistic phases of your kids—or you. MFTA accepts all art supplies and goods, but is especially keen on paper, fabric, arts & crafts supplies, buttons and beads. The organization will also accept small appliances, hardware, and household items — from electronics to pianos. They'll then pair your items with the perfect recipients from the city's artistic and educational communities.

You can mail your donations to MFTA's Long Island City location (they ask they you include a copy of their donation drop-off form from their website). To request help with large donations or schedule a drop-off donation, email donations@mfta.nyc.gov.

Online: nyc.gov

Where to Donate Books

Lots of places listed here will take your books, but if you’re nearby, also consider the Brooklyn Book Bodega. They’ll take your new and gently used children’s book at a partner donation location in Brooklyn. They accept gently used and new books for ages 0-18 including foreign language, dual language and nonfiction books. (Please: no religious books, textbooks, activity books, encyclopedias, broken books, or books with missing pages.)

Online: brooklynbookbodega.org

photo credit: Ergoguys

Where to Donate Old batteries and cell phones

Call2Recycle

Did you know that throwing out your batteries and cell phones improperly can lead to fires? Call2Recycle provides convenient locations to safely dispose of your old batteries and phones. Drop-off locations are located in participating stores around the city, like The Home Depot, Lowe's, Key Food, and many more. You can also ship your batteries and rest assured that they'll be safely disposed of or recycled. 

Online: call2recycle.org

Where to Get Rid Electronic waste

LES Ecology Center Pop-Ups

For all electronic waste except batteries, the LES Ecology Center will help you out. Items accepted here include computers and computer parts, monitors, handheld devices like phones and tablets, network devices like modems, peripherals like keyboards and mice, printers, scanners, fax machines, TVs and associated appliances, videogame consoles — and the list goes on. If you have a non-working electronic device, this organization will probably take it off your hands. See a list of upcoming waste collection pop-ups here and the calendar for all events here. (Now you finally know what to do with that child-proof tablet that somehow still got busted…)

Online: lesecologycenter.org

Ven H. via Yelp 

Where to Donate Building Materials, Appliances, Furniture & More

Habitat for Humanity’ ReStore will take your gently-used furniture, appliances, cabinetry, building materials and other household items. (You can see a full list of what is accepted here.) To donate, submit photos of the donation item/items to restore@habitatnycwc.org. Someone will return your email in 48 hours, and will let you know if the ReStore can accept your items. You can then drop off your items at the ReStore during open hours (they have locations in Woodside, Queens, and Westchester) or you can request a pickup via the email above.

Online: habitatnycwc.org

photo: Vlada Karpovich via Pexels 

How to Reduce Waste: Swap or Get Free Stuff (or Donate)

Facebook Groups

You know that bread maker you bought during quarantine that you used twice and has since been gathering dust in your kitchen? There's someone out there who'd love to have it. That's where freecycle and swap Facebook groups come in. 

These are private groups, so you may need to wait to be accepted into the group. Once you're in, these groups are generally very active, friendly communities where you'll find a huge variety of items being given away, from tables, dressers, and chairs, to plants, baby clothes, and books for kids. Members will often give a heads up if the house has a cat or a dog for anyone with allergies or phobias. You can post to give things away and or post a request for an item you've been on the lookout for.

You'll find Facebook groups for the boroughs, like Brooklyn and Manhattan. There are also some nabe-specific groups, like this one for Forest Hills or one for Williamsburg, Bushwick and Ridgewood.

Grow NYC

These community swaps are held fairly frequently in many different locations — so a swap is likely to come to your area before long. (Of course, they took a break due to the pandemic, but the events are coming back. Face masks are required as of this writing.) It works like this: You bring items you want to donate, then take home any items you want. That's it! You don't have to bring something to take something either, so feel free to just show up if you're all out of goods to donate. 

Most small items are accepted, like clothing, housewares, games, books, and toys. Basically, if you can safely carry it out, you can bring it. Items like furniture, old TVs, unsealed or expired food or personal care products, electronics, or sharp objects aren't allowed.

Pro tip: The clothes get taken really quickly, especially children's clothes, but there are often cool toys. Our finds have included a mechanical dinosaur and a brand new large bulldog plushie—immediately washed when home. Books and housewares like plates are frequent good finds here, too. Plan to stick around for a while — items are constantly replenished as more goods are donated. 

Online: grownyc.org

NYC Fair Trade Coalition

This event isn't completely free, but you're supporting a good cause: The coalition supports businesses that produce goods with the planet's wellbeing in mind. The end goal is to make consumers more conscious of their shopping habits and the amount of waste created in the clothing industry every year.

Donating items is free, of course, but checking out will cost you $15 flat (though you can save some money by pre-purchasing your checkout ticket on Eventbrite). You can check out with up to 10 items, but check in with as much as you want: The coalition only accepts clothes, and will now even take your "unswappable" items and recycle them. 

Online: eventbrite.com

photo: Shirley810 via Pixabay

Freecycle

This website allows users to post items they're looking to give away or to find. While there's a general "NYC" tag, there are also sections for more specific locations, including Roosevelt Island , Brooklyn and Manhattan. The site is quite active and features some pretty random stuff. Items we saw listed recently include a bagful of yarn, crutches, a sewing machine and even an old piano.

Online: freecycle.org

Trash Nothing

Trash Nothing is another online community where you can post about items you're getting rid of or ones you'd like to acquire. This site is fairly active, and you'll find a variety of items listed, including really nice furniture, vases, packing supplies, books and tons more. 

Online: trashnothing.com

Plant Swaps

Are you tired of seeing the same plants and want to swap them out for some new ones? Or have you officially bought too many plants and can no longer see your floor? No problem: There are some options for you! Among the things you can swap in NYC, perhaps surprisingly, plants do make the list. 

Around springtime, especially, you'll find events like this one held by Supermad, where plant parents can come in and swap greens without spending any. Pay a visit to the Little Free Library of plants in Bushwick, Plantita. Or join the NYC plant swap group on Facebook and find a thriving community of plant lovers who trade and sell plants and clippings, and offer each other advice on all manners of green thumb queries. 

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