Tis the season to shop for cozy clothes, but for lots of people across the country, proper winter clothing just isn’t an option, and far too many of these individuals are children. Where can you donate your winter clothes? Lots of places actually, and it's actually easier than ever. Thanks to savvy nonprofits that have instituted interactive drop-off maps and scheduled pick-ups, making a timely charitable contribution is as simple as placing an online order. Better yet? At one national retailer you can even earn a discount by donating just one coat this winter.
As the risks of exposure to arctic air increases over the next few months, those living in poverty, especially children — unable to regulate their body temperatures as well as adults — will be hit the hardest. In fact, 1,300 people in the United States die from cold exposure each year, according to Boston University’s School of Health. For children in cold climates, a heavy coat or big puffer jacket often isn't enough. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests children wear many thin layers underneath their outerwear in addition to insulated boots, mittens, gloves, and hats. All the more reason to gather up any outgrown or unused winter garments and donate them to people in need. Here's how to make someone's holiday a little bit warmer this year.
1. Donate jackets using One Warm Coat’s drop off locator
We all mean well when it comes to remembering to donate used clothing, but let’s face it, more often then not we forget. One Warm Coat, a nonprofit organization that’s donated over six million coats since 1992, makes the donation process easy and takes away the hassle of tracking down a donation location. Simply use its Nonprofit Locator Map to find a participating partner organization via state or zip code, then pop by with your winter gear.
2. Shop while you drop off used coats at Burlington Coat Drive
It makes sense that a retailer synonymous with coats would host a coat drive. Burlington (formerly Burlington Coat Factory) offers shoppers 10% off your entire purchase (in-story only) through January 20, 2020 when you donate a coat. Rapper Common also joins the effort for the 13th year in a row. His organization, the Common Ground Foundation, is a sponsor, according to Essence.
3. Donate to a local Rotary Club’s coat drive
There are 33,000 Rotary Clubs — branches of the international service organization — around the world. And chances are, one of them in your area is hosting a coat drive this season. For instance, this year Chicagoland Rotary is hosting a coat drive for homeless veterans. To find out if your area Rotary Club has a drive, use rotary.org’s club find toolbar and enter your zip code.
4. Give a new coat to a kiddo through Operation Warm
You don’t even need to have an old coat to donate to make a big difference in a kid’s life. With Operation Warm, your financial donation will pay for a new coat for a child in need. Even better, this nonprofit boosts self-esteem by not only giving a child a new coat, but by letting them choose the style and color they like best.
5. Schedule an at-home clothing donation pick up to benefit the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross, a humanitarian disaster and emergency assistance relief organization, is always accepting gently used clothing and that includes outerwear, raincoats, overcoats, hats, gloves, sweaters, pants, and boots. To donate, you can either look for a GreenDrop goods and clothing donation drop-off center or schedule a pick-up on the American Red Cross website.
6. Ask your company's HR department about organizing a clothing drive
Want to make a bigger contribution? Get your company involved. Talk to your HR department about organizing a clothing drive. Often homeless shelters and soup kitchens accept warm clothes during the winter season. Contact area nonprofits to see who is taking donations, then get your staff involved in the effort.
7. Look for donation bins at local retailers
This time of year, you never know where you might find a clothing collection bin, from coffee shops to hardware stores. To make sure you don't miss your opportunity to share your gently used items, keep them in a box in your car, that way when you spot a bin, you'll have them on hand for an easy drop-off.
8. Look for donation boxes at schools
A great way to teach children about giving back is to encourage students to donate canned food and used clothing. Winter is often the time teachers will introduce collection bins to classrooms and community areas, like the cafeteria. While dropping your kids off at school, look for any donation bins. You can even make it a teachable moment by allowing your little ones the chance to put the used items in the bin themselves.
9. Help a veteran by donating to Operation Stand Down
As part of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, Operation Stand Down works to help homeless veterans transition from shelters to permanent homes. There are numerous chapters across the country, but Tennessee's is one of the biggest and is currently in need of gently used men's and women’s clothing as well as shoes and boots which can be dropped off at the 12th Ave Thrift Store in Nashville on Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Or, you can give a monetary donation to help veterans in need by clicking the "Give" button at osdtn.org.