As thousands of people rush to return items they got over the holidays, local charities urge you to donate instead.
Whether it’s a gift card to a restaurant you just don’t like or an appliance you just don’t use, organizations like The Salvation Army and The Safe Alliance urge you to donate the items instead of taking them back.
And if you got something new, like a coffee maker, you can donate your previously owned, gently used one.
"Gifts of household, or even clothes that don't fit, are particularly welcome,” said Julia Spann, the president of The Safe Alliance.
Spann said they have more than 300 people in their shelters and always need household items like towels, sheets and hygiene products.
"When people have had to move into a shelter or transitional housing, they're working very hard for what's going to be the next thing in their life, and we really hope they don't have to spend their limited amount of money on just household goods, or basic living supplies,” said Spann.
She said people will stay with them for a few days, or more than a year, all while working to create a safe life.
"I want people to know that if they have a gift that they think would be something another person would be able to use, but they don't want it, to please share that gift,” said Spann.
Over at the Salvation Army, Major Andrew Kelly said even small donations can make a big difference.
He said they can take just about anything that is lightly use, and sell it at a small price in their family store. Then, they use the money to support their adult rehabilitation center.
“That will help somebody around town who can’t afford the new item, but could really use the used item, and they’ll purchase it from our family store, which is a double blessing because it helps that family that needs that item to get something at a reasonable price, and it also helps support our ministry at the adult rehabilitation center,” said Kelly. “Those donations help those people to purchase items at a reasonable cost, even though they’re slightly used, they’re still workable, and that family will still have what they need.”
That’s where those gently used items can come in handy.
“A lot of the folks we help are the working poor, and they work hard to make ends meet, and sometimes things break and they need to replace them,” said Kelly.
They also house hundreds of people each night in the Austin area, many of them children.
“We still will have a lot of children who will come into our shelter who don’t have anything, and we’re trying to help them feel a little bit more normal,” said Kelly. “We try to have some nice new toys for for them, stuffed animals or stuff like that.”
Both organizations said they rely heavily on year-end gifts, and encourage people to donate right now to take advantage of a tax write-off benefits.
"We see our largest donations come in between Christmas and New Year’s, and that sustains us for the rest of the year,” said Spann.
You can find the SAFE Amazon wish list, where you can ship directly to their location here.
And you can find high demand items here.
If you plan to drop off at the warehouse, it will be closed Dec. 28 and 29, as well as New Year’s Day.
They also will only accept new items until February due to space.
Find more information on donations here.
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