Every day, about several hundred people stop by Goodwill Southern California’s flagship donation site on San Fernando Road in Glassell Park to get rid of their old stuff. They come with toys, home goods, books, CDs, LPs, DVDs and lots of clothes.

At the end of the year, the team here will see the biggest uptick in donations.

“People are getting ready to make room for their new Christmas gifts. They’re doing end-of-the-year cleaning,” says Eric Hart, district manager for Goodwill Southern California. “They’re trying to get tax write-offs before the end of the year, too. And it’s the season of giving.”

Perhaps you too spent the last few weeks of the year cleaning out your home. Now you’re trying to figure out what to do with everything you no longer want or need. If you’re planning to make donations, it’s important to identify which organizations can accept your goods and make the best use of them.

What to know about donating your items. (Getty Images)

Homeboy Electronics Recycling is experienced handling sensitive equipment, providing customers with certification of data destruction after wiping or shredding the data on devices. (Courtesy of Homeboy Industries)

Donations. (Getty Images)

Homeboy Electronics Recycling is experienced handling sensitive equipment, providing customers with certification of data destruction after wiping or shredding the data on devices. (Courtesy of Homeboy Industries)

What to know about donating your items. (Getty Images)

Homeboy Electronics Recycling is experienced handling sensitive equipment, providing customers with certification of data destruction after wiping or shredding the data on devices. (Courtesy of Homeboy Industries)



Clothes out

Goodwill is best known for clothing donations. At Goodwill Southern California, you’ll see a quickly changing rotation of items inside the flagship store.

However, the condition of your donations is important.

“We like to say that we accept ‘gently used’ or ‘like-new’ clothing. Ultimately, we want to respect our customers that come in, too,” says Hart. “Our customers are coming in looking for good deals and looking to pay way below retail, but we also have to respect that they don’t want to buy clothing that’s unwearable or unusable, that’s going to look like it’s something from a thrift store.”

Ripped and/or stained clothing isn’t appropriate to donate for resale. However, there are other options. Look for organizations that recycle textiles, like Suay Sew Shop in Los Angeles, which accepts clothing in less-than-stellar condition. (Like thrift stores, however, they don’t accept underwear.)

At Goodwill Southern California, which oversees more than 100 donation centers throughout most of Los Angeles County, as well as Riverside and San Bernardino counties, non-apparel items are needed most right now.

“All of those other categories are the ones that we get less of and have less on hand at most times of the year,” says Hart.

While they take a large variety of items, furniture donations are dependent on available space at the donation site, so check with your local Goodwill before you load your old kitchen table into the car. They also do not accept large appliances.

Inevitable bulk

When it comes to bulky items, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles, which operates ReStore locations in Los Angeles, Torrance and Bellflower might be a good option.

They also handle pickups, ranging from Lancaster to Long Beach and across the county from Santa Monica to Santa Fe Springs.

Habitat for Humanity doesn’t uninstall large appliances but will pick them up from your home. (If you’re in the San Gabriel Valley or surrounding counties, check with your Habitat for Humanity operation for donation details, which may vary.)

ReStores have a reputation for great deals on large and small items for the home, but there’s more to this work than retail. Habitat for Humanity also provides these secondhand goods to folks who need them, whether it’s because they’re transitioning into permanent housing or recently lost their home in a fire.

“So the gently used appliances may be donated to individuals in the community who have a need or they are sold in our stores and the proceeds are used to build their homes,” explains Erin Rank, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles.

They also accept items that might not be acceptable elsewhere, like leftover building materials from your home improvement projects. As is typical for donation centers, they don’t accept mattresses or toilets, though. Check with your city or county for local recycling programs to dispose of those.

Kid stuff

Children’s items are another area where donations can be tricky. Goodwill doesn’t accept cribs, strollers are car seats. Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles also does not accept used car seats, however, they will accept used high chairs in good condition, amongst other baby items for their thrift stores, which are located in Covina and Whittier. It’s recommended that you call URM first to discuss your possible donations.

Always make sure that you don’t have hazardous materials mixed in with your donations. This can create problems for the donation centers, who then become responsible for safely disposing of this waste.

“It ends up being a large cost to us at the end of the year that could be going towards our programs to help individuals with employment,” says Hart over at Goodwill.

Make sure you double-check your donations to ensure that the items you want to keep haven’t slipped into the pile. At high-volume centers with a quick turnaround, like Goodwill, it might be difficult to retrieve anything post-donation. If you’re donating via pickup from Habitat for Humanity, they do double-check drawers and other hiding places when they collect your goods, but it’s best to take care of this beforehand.

Data dump

As for donating the items that can hold your most sensitive information, like your computer and phone, it’s ideal to wipe your data before you donate. You should also look for centers that can provide certification that data has been destroyed.

At Homeboy Electronics Recycling, handling sensitive equipment is their specialty. As a credentialed R2V3 recycler, they provide customers with certification of data destruction, which they do by either wiping or shredding the data on devices.

Homeboy recycles for both corporate clients and individuals.

“Most consumers…hoard their electronics at home because we are afraid to give them away. We’re really afraid of what could happen to our identities,” he says.

Often, when consumers do send their old devices to Homeboy, the data is still on them.

After the devices are wiped clean, they’re tested and repaired. Those that fail testing are recycled. Those that pass are resold through Homeboy’s e-commerce platform.

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“We’re really proud of our role as a recycler and resaler because it allows people who live in the digital divide to actually have access to affordable technology,” says Deliman.

Homeboy does pick up donations throughout the greater Los Angeles area, including Orange County, but you’ll need to call first to see when and how pickups can be coordinated.

They also have a mail-in program that is free for smaller electronics, as well as items like cables and computer accessories. Just go to their website and print out one of their shipping labels to send securely via FedEx.

While your typical home electronics are free to donate, some items, like satellite dishes and office-style copy machines and printers, require a small recycling fee.