10 Essential Items to Donate Next Time


It feels good to donate items we don’t need to someone who does. But there are items that food pantries and clothing programs really need, but often go undonated. Mashable, the tech and digital news site, published a good list of essential donation items. Next time you donate, use this list to take a critical look at what you’re about to give.

  1. Toilet Paper: Addresses a universal human need. Often the first item to go from a food pantry. You really can’t give enough of this.
  2. Toothpaste & Toothbrush: Same reason as above.
  3. Small Size Bottles of Bathroom Essentials: Especially helpful to someone without regular shelter who may need to carry it with them for personal use.
  4. First-aid Items: Band-Aids, ointments, medical wipes and ace bandages can be especially helpful to someone who is homeless.
  5. Pads and Tampons: These represent an unavoidable cost for many families, but not the subject of polite conversation and hence under-donated.
  6. Diapers: Assistance programs like WIC and SNAP do not cover the cost of these items. Think especially about providing them for older infants.
  7. Underwear and Socks: By their nature, these items are not well-suited as second hand donations, so buy them new and donate them.
  8. Spices: As a food pantry item, spices make the food more interesting and less bland. Focus on the most common spices—salt, pepper, thyme, paprika and cinnamon.
  9. Blankets: People living on the street often lack access to a heat source. All weather blankets made of wool or fleece are a necessity.
  10. School Supplies At Mid-Year: Donation centers are inundated at the beginning of the year, when it’s on everyone’s mind, but by the middle of the year, supplies run low. Focus on notebooks, pencils, erasers and sturdy backpacks.

Photo:  Steven Depolo, 9.20.2103.  Flickr Creative Commons.


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