For many people the Christmas holiday means a huge spike in consumption and gift buying for family, friends, and especially children. For some, though, right within our own neighborhood, this time of year is incredibly stressful as many struggle to provide the feasts, gifts, and bounty that they dream of bringing to their families. For some, even housing and the basic necessities will be a struggle to secure. As you prepare for the influx into your kitchen, your playroom, your closets, and your garage, now is a great time to think about purging those gently used or unused items that have gathered throughout the year. Perhaps something collecting dust and adding to your home’s clutter is just the thing someone else needs. In the spirit of sharing and giving to others within our community, wouldn’t it be great to know that your unused items could bring magic or at least reduce the stress of the season for someone else? Below are a few ways you can share your unused or gently used clothing, books, toys, linens, kitchen items, toiletries and so much more to make the season more comfortable and joy-filled for those around you.

Below is a list of community resources for giving in-kind donations or exchanging goods with others for free during the holiday season and throughout the year. Some of these are local to San Diego and others you can connect with all over the country:

Alpha Project (San Diego)
From their mission statement:“The mission of the Alpha Project is to empower individuals, families, and communities by providing work, recovery and support services to people who are motivated to change their lives and achieve self-sufficiency. The agency’s many programs are available to all persons in need regardless of race, creed, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.”

From their site:“Alpha Project does not operate any thrift stores. Therefore, we only accept items that we can use immediately due to our storage capacity. Items that are always needed include hygiene products, towels, twin sheets, undergarments, blankets, books, clothing in good condition, coats, blankets, socks, and pillows. Other items that may be helpful include bunk beds, filing cabinets, tables, and other household and office items.

Drop Off Location:
Alpha Square:
550 14th Street
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 696-6500
Donations accepted 9am – 4pm, Monday- Friday.  Please call in advance

Buy Nothing Project (Nationwide – thru Facebook)

My personal favorite recommendation is the Buy Nothing Project. While you do have to be a member of Facebook to participate, I have found this group to be so rewarding. While Buy Nothing is nationwide, each neighborhood community has the opportunity to start their own group. Once you have been approved for membership to your neighborhood’s group, you can post things you need as well as things you are giving away. Christmas decorations, clothing, luggage, a camping stove, dog flea meds, unopened and opened hair conditioner bottles, DVD’s with or without original cases, bedding, beds, a dresser, a freezer, gardening supplies. This is just a list of the items I have shared with my neighbors over the last year. Things that Goodwill and many other charities can’t take like opened toiletries, perishable foods, household chemicals, and building supplies can be shared freely among your neighbors.

Freecycle (Nationwide)

From their site: “The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 5,313 groups with 9,145,337 members around the world, and next door to you. It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns and neighborhoods. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by local volunteers (them’s good people). Membership is free.”

Rachel’s Women’s Center (San Diego)

From their site: “Rachel’s Women’s Center is a Catholic Charity providing a safe and sober seven days a week drop-in day center for homeless and very-low income women. The organization provides lunch for 60 females. It offers bathroom, shower, lunch service, replacement clothing, alcohol/drug recovery services, mental health consultations, socialization activities, education, and resources to aid in finding locations.”

I regularly bring my female clients’ donated clothing and shoes and unopened toiletries to this center. Recently I dropped off an entire box filled with sample/hotel sized shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion, and soap. They are also always looking for deodorant and feminine products, too. This is, of course, one of many organization that supports the homeless. It just happens to be one I have personal experience with.

Drop off location:
759 8th Avenue
San Diego, CA 9210
(619) 686-0873

San Diego Military Outreach Ministries (San Diego)

From their mission statement: “…SDMOM provides helping services to thousands of enlisted families each year. All services are provided free of charge. Services include nearly daily distribution of food, small household goods, children’s supplies and hosting holiday events, baby showers and family events. SDMOM serves the Active Duty junior enlisted military family (mostly ranks E-5 and below), typically headed by a 19-30 year old, with young children, away from home, and trying to survive in our expensive economy on a low salary while struggling with high debt and the family stresses of deployment.”

To donate unneeded household items, infant or children’s clothes or supplies, baby furniture or food, call their office at (619) 461-4164.