You just passed a bag of hand-me-downs to your neighbor’s two-year-old and her brother is interested in your old board games. But what about that old sofa in the basement or your overflowing collection of hotel toiletry samples? In Half Moon Bay and along the Coast, families and individuals are in need of your throw-aways. And there are places that will display them for you until the lucky new owner happens to stop by, whether that be at a local charity, thrift store or in cyberspace.
Re-use Recyclables: Why keep it around if someone can use it now?
Coastside Hope in El Granada, Puente in Pescadero, and Parca (which serves the Peninsula and greater Bay Area) ensure your items get to families or individuals who need them. These 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations support farm workers/migrant communities of the South Coast (Puente), low income communities (Coastside Hope) and the developmentally disabled (Parca). They accept a variety of items and provide receipts for your tax-deductible donations.
Coastside Hope Development Director Denis James says her organization helps approximately 3,200 people a year, which she says translates to 10% of the Coastside community. An easy way to clean cabinets and make a donation, says James, is to look around the house for “collections” from the past year. This could include food items you never got around to trying, sample toiletries from hotels, like shampoo or soap, and even gift cards you’ll never use. “I have a gift card in my purse that I’ve carried for a year,” says James, adding that people don’t commonly think of re-gifting these items.
Other items that are always needed include men’s clothing and shoes, towels, bed linens, and sleeping bags. Items should be gently used and clean. Puente also accepts bicycles in good working condition, diapers, laundry soap, and school supplies for its families. Calling a few days in advance to arrange for drop-off or pick-up of donations is suggested to ensure space and to allow Puente staff to scan their database to match the item with a particular request. To see Puente’s wish list, click here, or call 650-879-1691 and ask for Veronica.
For used furniture or household appliances, Coastside Hope will find a proper fit if the item is needed. A sewing machine or laptop can help a struggling student or senior. “Often, it helps the entire household and has a far-reaching effect,” says James.
Parca, which serving people with developmental disabilities throughout the Bay Area, will send a vehicle to pick up your items when you call 650-312-0725 or schedule a pickup online.
It is best to go online or call before donating items, to ensure proper identification of items or to collect a tax-deductible receipt.
Too Stuffed With Plushies and Baby Toys?
Used stuffed animals seem nearly impossible to donate and can take up much needed space around the house. Stuffed Animals For Emergencies (SAFE), a 14-year-old non-profit run by volunteers, will ensure your toys are “gone, but not forgotten” as they clean them up and place them with new children. They collect plush animals, toys, books, and baby blankets, distributing them to children during emergency situations like fire, illness, abuse, or weather related problems, such as hurricanes or flooding. Currently items go to a collection center on the Peninsula and are streamlined through a volunteer in Napa. If you are interested in becoming a local volunteer, or just want to find out more, visit SAFE’s website.
Thrift Stores, Freecycling, and Swaps
Open Thursday–Saturday from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. and Sunday from noon–4 p.m., the Senior Coastsiders Thrift Store accepts donations on the following dates and times: Monday and Thursday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; Sunday, noon-3 p.m.
The store takes old jewelry, kitchen items, collectibles, and furniture in good condition, and does not accept all items. Calling ahead is best to determine if the store will accept your items, as well as to ensure they have room for your furniture or larger items. On May 21, the store will hold a Collectible & Antique Sale. Money made goes to local seniors, in support of ongoing programs and adults with disabilities.
In El Granada at 522 Avenue Alhambra, the Alternative Thrift Shop will take your used items, but suggests calling ahead (650-726-9911) as space is limited. “We’ve seen lots of people move and I get things from storage units,” says Cindy Judkins, who has operated the shop for 28 years. Baby items, jewelry, books, clothing, and small household items are all accepted, as long as they are clean. The shop is open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Online, the re-use community is in full swing, with the addition of the Freecycle Network. Composed of nearly 5,000 local groups organized purely for the sake of passing unwanted items on to others, this global grassroots nonprofit movement works to keep your used goods out of landfills. The service is free and moderated by a local volunteer. Giving and getting stuff for free has never been so easy. Register to join the Coastside Freecycle group by clicking here.
The Coastside Mothers' Club also practices their own form of freecycling through several clothing swaps they hold throughout the year, where members bring all their unwanted pieces and swap them for a fresh look to their wardrobe.
"Our first was five years ago at the Farmers' Market," says Mothers' Club president Kristen O'Brien. "Every time we hold one, we donate carloads to charity, which is my favorite part," she said.
Although the swaps are generally open to members only, the club holds one a year open to the public. The club has not yet announced the date of the public swap, but check their website for updates.