If you’re like me, you have a slew of random items in your home that are either collecting dust or resenting you for not using them (treadmill, cough cough). While you could sell these items online, donating them to underprivileged individuals or impoverished families will provide far greater value. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are close to 41 million people currently living in poverty, many of whom would love to have your gently used items. So, in the spirit of spring cleaning, here are three ways you can make the most of your overlooked items:
- Support local jobs: You may not know it, but when you donate your unwanted items, you’re supporting employment. Many donation facilities help people with special needs fulfill their potential, and for others, serve as a reliable source of income. By choosing to donate items to these thrift stores, you’re enabling fellow residents to lead productive lives. Who knew your sweater or set of old golf clubs could make such a difference?
- Empower struggling parents: Time flies when you have young children. That’s especially true as your loved ones grow and get older, resulting in piles of clothing you can no longer use. Chances are, there are dozens of families in your community who are struggling to clothe their children. Work with your local United Way to find nearby agencies that support families in need, and then ask if you can drop off your items.
- Help families (and yourself): Donating your gently used items is not only a great way to help families in need, it may also provide you with some financial relief during tax season. At charity thrift stores, when you donate items you’re often given a receipt. Save this receipt and consult with your tax advisor to determine the tax deductibility of your contribution. For example, every year I donate clothes, books and kitchen items to my local Goodwill store, and in return, they give me a receipt I use when itemizing deductions on my federal tax return. Typically, I can deduct the fair-market value of my items.
With close to 13 percent of the U.S. population experiencing some level of poverty, a little help can go a long way. When it comes to donating items, you never know how far your old comforter, television set or couch could go. Sometimes, all it takes is a little spring cleaning to help a neighbor live a happier, healthier and more comfortable life. The next time you’re perusing your closet, see if you have anything to donate. You just might be changing a life.