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Best Places to Donate Used Toys

Written by: John Crawford
Last updated: January 30, 2024

You can provide disadvantaged children in your community with toys of all sizes and shapes - even used ones. All children deserve to feel special, whether they are celebrating their birthday, the holidays, or experiencing hardship.

A great way to help others in need is donating used toys for Christmas. Go through your old stuff from childhood and even those of your elderly parents to find some old toys. Do the research to find the most worthwhile cause or organization to donate to.

In case you haven’t though, we’ve listed below a few places to donate used toys. Don't forget to call ahead to ensure your chosen charity accepts donations before you pack up the car.

Children’s Hospitals And Clinics

Kids who are undergoing surgery or who have medical conditions can greatly benefit from used toys. The families of these children may have to pay expensive medical bills and may not provide them with toys that are age-appropriate or new. 

Alternatively, you can bring toys to a pediatrician or children's clinic if you do not live near a hospital for children. There are likely to be other needy families who go to these facilities. These facilities welcome donations of stuffed animals or hypoallergenic toys that are washable. 

Common rooms can also benefit from games and puzzles that have a lot of parts, like board games and puzzles. Donating used toys for Christmas may also be comforting to children who have sick siblings or parents.   

Local Schools

When you were in grade school, recess was probably your favorite part of the day. Playing games, drawing with chalk, throwing balls, and more will engage children during recess time. Aside from playing outside, toys can help children burn off excess energy that sometimes need to be expended.

Nearly everyone lives near a pre-school, elementary school, or middle school where books and craft supplies are always in demand from teachers. In some high schools, volunteer programs or organizations early childhood education programs wherein they can volunteer. With used toys and craft supplies, children and young adults with disabilities can benefit and help them gain sensory experiences. 

Thrift Stores And Secondhand Stores

By recycling and repurposing items, secondhand stores and thrift shops benefit communities. There are many toys that you can find in thrift and secondhand stores. Generally, these outlets have a wide range of items, but some do just sell toys and books for those looking for somewhere specific.

The Red Cross

The Red Cross assists families and children during natural disasters, wars, and outbreaks. Despite these families' challenges in finding new homes and other essential comforts, a few toys can make a huge difference to children. Toys like stuffed animals can soothe and make children feel secure when anxious under stressful situations and unfamiliar environments.

Foster Home Or Adoption Agencies

Orphans or children who are separated from their families go through significant stress. It is not uncommon for foster care centers to run out of supplies, particularly toys. Donate several types of used toys, such as items that multiple children can use together like puzzles, books, and building blocks.

Larger items, such as bicycles and outdoor games, are also welcome and will likely be good to use. Even though adoption agencies or centers may not have children in their care for long periods, thus, your toys reaching the right beneficiaries.

Childcare Facilities 

Childcare centers and daycare centers serve a very important function for working families. Consequently, many of these facilities operate on smaller budgets or resources, so the costs for families can be kept low. Playrooms can be more fun if used toys are available, and broken or dirty toys can be removed when they're no longer needed. 

Holiday Toy Drives

Toy drives during the holidays are the best opportunity one can get for donating used toys for Christmas. These drives do not always accept used toys. However, you may find organizations that accept them. 

You may not have to buy a new toy if your organization does not require it. Some of the places listed may organize toy drives on a large scale during the holiday season. Children are often given toys as part of the holidays, arguably the most important time of the year to do so. 

Shelters And Safe Homes

Families with children are often accommodated in local shelters, and those kids would love the gift of a donated toy. If you are open to donating used toys for Christmas, you can check with your local social services agency to see if a safe home for domestic violence victims or a shelter for homeless families and children needs gently used toys. 

Child foster care agencies also need used toys, which is possible with the support of the social services department. You may also reach out to a shelter directly if you can't reach someone on the phone. Visit the Homeless Shelter Directory to find shelters near you. You may learn about items they accept and how and when to drop off toys from the person answering the phone.

Toy-Specific Non-Profit Organizations

Consider donating used toys to non-profit organizations, such as those below that specialize in collecting them. To make donating used toys as convenient as possible, pick-up and drop-off options are available.

  • Second Chance Toys strives to prevent good toys from ending up in landfills. If a drop-off location is not nearby, they will arrange one for those with 50 or more gently used plastic toys.
  • Stuffed Animals for Emergencies collects, cleans, and distributes donations to local organizations working with traumatized or emotionally abused children.
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of America Foundation is a youth organization that works with military families as well as local communities.


A great many charities utilize their networks to distribute gently used toys. The Salvation Army and Goodwill, for example, resell toys at their thrift stores and then use the profits to benefit their charities. Goodwill and The Salvation Army are charitable thrift stores that take toys and sell them. Proceeds from the sale of these toys are used for programs that benefit the needy right in your neighborhood. 

Before donating, you should contact the store to determine if there is a surplus of toys - if so, they may decline your donation. If your donation is accepted, it is a wonderful way to help keep funds in your local community while providing low-cost toys for families.

Donations of all kinds are accepted at Goodwill. Many families cannot afford new toys, so used toys are in high demand. You can donate toys for children of any age to Goodwill. Goodwill does not accept toys that are recalled or deemed unsafe. 

Alternatively, you could donate to Toys for Tots, which provides toys to children in need run by the United States Marine Corps Reserves. Toys for Tots accepts gently used toys throughout the year, but their most popular toy drives occur around the holidays. Low-income families can benefit from Cradles to Crayons by donating new and nearly new toys.

Donating During The Pandemic

Even though it can be difficult to locate charities and organizations that accept donations of gently used toys during the recent Coronavirus outbreak, you don't have to dispose of your child's old toys. 

You can also post the items on your local Buy Nothing Facebook group if you cannot locate any places to donate toys. Additionally, you can post the toys on Craigslist or Freecycle. Ensure that the toys are disinfected before donating them, just as you would with any other donation.

Police And Fire Departments

Often, children receiving stuffed animals and other small toys from law enforcement officers and firefighters are dependent on donations to replenish their supplies. Don't hesitate to contact your local fire and police departments to find out if they're accepting donations. 

Stuffed Animals for Emergencies (SAFE) is an efficient and reliable body to donate toys to. Children's clothes, toys, blankets, books, and stuffed animals are all accepted, and the organization finds organizations that can utilize donations to support youngsters with emotional issues.


There may be some families in your church that could benefit from a few new toys. Other churches may use the toys to keep children occupied during services, Sunday school classes, or other events. Find more about the church donation drives by contacting the children's ministry coordinator.

Moreover, you can claim a tax deduction if you donate old toys to a church nursery since churches are tax-exempt organizations. Many religious organizations provide free or low-cost childcare to their parishioners, so toys are needed. 

Temples, churches, and other places of worship are known for their philanthropic activities, even if you do not observe any faith. If your toys don't go to patrons in your immediate area, volunteers or staff will reach out to people in need in neighboring regions or even overseas.

Toy Specific Charities

Donations to national charities are always welcome, even if local charities don't need toys. The following list contains several charities looking for specific goods, such as toys and games.

Toys for Tots

Toys for Tots is often associated with a call for new, unwrapped toys, but the charity also accepts used toys that are still in good condition. You can schedule a pick-up or locate a drop-off location by entering your state on the Toys for Tots website. 

Nevertheless, used toys are distributed differently than brand-new items - they may end up at shelters or facilities rather than with individual children. Toys for Tots also accepts cash donations and volunteers who wish to contribute without donating toys.

Ronald McDonald House

Families receiving treatment in a nearby hospital can stay and use the facilities at the Ronald McDonald House. Families residing farther away can remain near their children in times of need when the House is available.

Ronald McDonald House provides facilities for entire families, which means it constantly needs toys to keep siblings entertained during their stay. Toy donations can be made to Chapters in your area. 

Loving Hugs 

Loving Hugs offers stuffed toys to kids in crises, such as natural disasters or during an ambulance ride. Kids relate to the idea of being scared or sad, and stuffed animals can provide comfort. 

In addition to making children smile, toys can give children security and challenge their imaginations. Gifts can make children feel loved and make them see the world in a more positive light. The holiday season is a great time to donate used toys to children's hospitals, churches, schools, and charities. 

Children in need should feel love regardless of their family's financial situation; regardless if they have family or not. While you're downsizing or cleaning up your home, gather your own family to organize and deliver donations. It’s not just a good way to minimize clutter, but it’s a teaching moment of gratitude younger kids will appreciate.

Are you interested in learning more about the various programs and foundations that can help you with your financial needs? Read more of Gov Relations' resources on our website!

John Crawford
John Crawford is a dedicated researcher who has devoted his career to studying the intricacies of government benefits programs and their impact on individuals and communities. Armed with a Ph.D. in Social Policy and a strong analytical mind, John has contributed valuable insights through his extensive research projects. His work informs policymakers, enabling them to make data-driven decisions to improve social care programs. John's commitment to evidence-based research has made him a respected figure in the field, advocating for more equitable and effective government benefit policies.
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