Where to donate used clothing in Toronto
Looking to donate used clothing in Toronto? Your closet castoffs have plenty of options for new homes. Major thrift chains, including Value Village, Salvation Army and Goodwill, are an obvious choice - in addition to being convenient, they'll use the proceeds to fund their own charitable outreach (or, in VV Boutique's case, donate some and profit off the rest).
But if you'd really like to feed your donations back into the community, there are a few local thrift stores still operating in Toronto, run by local non-profits that use the cash to fuel programs of their own.
If you'd like to make sure that that special item gets into the hands of someone who can really use it, there are organizations that collect professional clothing (think job interview suits) for folks trying to re-enter the workforce, and shelters collecting warm clothing to help those living on the street. You can even donate your wedding gown, with the money from the resale going to benefit charity.
Here's a selection of some of the best places to donate clothing in Toronto - where they are, what they'll take, and where your donation is going.
Dress Your Best and Dress For Success
These complementary organizations help disadvantaged men and women (respectively) build up a professional work wardrobe before re-entering the workforce. They'll accept your suits, sweaters, dress shirts, shoes, and other professional attire; everything should be dry clean or laundered and donated folded or in hangers. Donations can be made on the third floor of 188 Lowther Ave. on Tuesdays (10am to 4pm).
The Brides' Project
This little shop at 431 Broadview Ave. accepts bridal gowns that are less than five years old; they're sold at half the retail value, with all proceeds going to cancer charities. Your dress doesn't have to be professionally cleaned, and if you'd like to ditch some bridesmaid or mother-of-the-bride dresses, they'll pass them on to other charities for you. They've begun coordinating some further-flung drop-off locations due to demand.
Operating in the Don Mills and Eglinton area, New Circles aims to offer resources for families in Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park through their "boutique-like" setup. Clothing for teenagers and plus-size women are currently high on their wish list; check out their list of donation guidelines.
Rotary Centre at St. Michael's Hospital
St. Mike's Rotary Transition Centre acts as a resource for homeless patients who end up hospitalized; before they leave the emergency department, they can rest up, shower, have a meal, and pick out clothing items from the donations closet. The centre is looking for warm, clean clothing, with a special focus on winter coats, hats and scarves as well as new socks and underwear. Drop off donations at the centre, located on the first floor of the hospital's Shuter Wing (entrance at Shuter and Victoria).
If you'd like to help the homeless population in your community, contact your local shelter to see if they accept clothing donations.
Canadian Diabetes Association
One of the few charities that offers a pickup service for smaller donations of clothing, the Canadian Diabetes Association sells donated items on to chains like Value Village in order to fund diabetes research. You can schedule a pickup online or by phone, or find a dropbox. (Just a gentle reminder: Don't leave bagged clothing sitting outside boxes.)
Oasis Clothing Bank
Those green boxes you see around town are operated by Oasis, which accepts clothing and shoes to either pass on to people in addiction recovery programs or sell the items to other companies (including textile mills or Value Village) to fund their programming. They'll also do clothing pickup - provided your donation is large enough. Since a definitive list of drop boxes is currently not available online, I'd recommend contacting the company for the best way to donate in your area.
If you're just looking to get stuff out the door, dropping it off at a thrift store can be a good option. Value Village is a for-profit enterprise, though the company adds it's donated $1.5 billion to various non-profits over the years. Toronto has seven stores across the GTA, including one in Leslieville and one near Bloor and Lansdowne; check out their site for more. (They've also partnered with Oasis and Canadian Diabetes Association to accept pick-ups through those groups.)
Another thrift mainstay, Goodwill uses the cash from donated items to help fund job training and employment placement for people with disabilities. In addition to a number of stores throughout the GTA, they also have donation centres where you can bring in your used clothing, including a downtown dropoff at Richmond and Jarvis. Find a location on their site.
The charity uses sales from their stores to fund a number of programs, including food banks, shelters, addiction treatment facilities, and summer camps for kids. In addition to stores across the GTA, including Parkdale, Bloor West, Regent Park, they have a few drop boxes in Scarborough and North York.
On Gerrard, just east of Parliament, Double Take is operated by the Yonge St. Mission, which offers a variety of services and programs. In addition to raising funds for the mission, the group also allows folks in need to pick out workwear for job interviews via specially allocated gift certificates. With that in mind, they're always looking for professional work attire; they're also particularly in need of menswear of all kinds and plus-size womenswear. They'll accept donations inside the store during operating hours.
Located in the Beaches, Pegasus' thrift store raises funds to support adults with special needs. They'll accept your donations of clothing, jewelry and accessories during store hours; visit their site for more detailed info.
RESALE SHOPS (if you're hoping to sell)
If you're hoping to get a little cash in hand for your old clothes, you might want to try bringing them by a resale store (or, for designer or high-end items, Toronto's best consignment stores). Common Sort - which is a for-profit boutique, not a charitable entity - has locations in Parkdale and Leslieville; bring them in-season items and they'll work out how much they can sell each item for, then offer you half that price in store credit or 25% cash.
With nearly a dozen locations across Toronto, the Kind Exchange's business model banks on convenience. If they choose your items - based largely on what's in season, how many of a given item they have, and how likely it is to sell - they'll offer you either 20% of the selling price in cash or 30% in store credit. They'll also give you the option to donate items they don't want to purchase (great if you don't want to haul things around). Additionally, their East Danforth store, dubbed Kind Exchange Cares, donates all proceeds to charity.
If you're looking for a convenient donation location, check out DonationBoxes.ca to find a drop-off point for used items near you.
Photo of Common Sort by Dennis Marciniak