Where to donate stuff from your pandemic spring cleaning

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By Emily Myers  |
April 27, 2020 - 1:00PM

Have things to give away? You may find fewer takers for unwanted items on your stoop during the pandemic.

kzoop via Flickr

Before the pandemic, you might have found books, games, decor, small appliances and even furniture free for the taking on the stoops and sidewalks of NYC. It's long been an easy way to get rid of unwanted items that were still usable. But concerns that the coronavirus can linger for hours or even days on surfaces mean stoop sales and freebies may potentially pose health hazards.

Lots of New Yorkers are likely having second thoughts about picking up someone else’s spring cleaning, so if you're using your time at home to purge your clutter, you may be wondering how you can get rid of things safely during the pandemic. Many of New York City's larger non-profits and recycling programs are closed, but some remain open, with changes about what they accept and new procedures to prevent infection. Some brand new donation efforts have also launched and will pick up from your building. Read on for more details.

While Out of the Closet is encouraging New Yorkers to use this time at home to go through their closets and sort donations, they aren’t currently coming to pick items up. Habitat for Humanity, Housing Works, and the Big Reuse are all closed until further notice. Many Salvation Army locations have suspended pickups and only select locations are accepting drop-offs. City recycling efforts have slowed with textile donations no longer being accepted by refashionNYC or Greenmarket and the city's e-waste donation program is suspended. 

New curbside donations pick up

NYC is experiencing some hyper-local problem solving during the pandemic and one of these is a partnership between Brown Harris StevensGoodwill, and the city’s moving companies that's providing curbside pickup of donated items from residential buildings across Manhattan.

The Spring Cleaning Challenge is accepting donations of clothing, books, and household items. Scott Harris, a broker with BHS, came up with the idea and is hopeful the project can be broadened out to other boroughs. "There's been a lot of demand. It seems like we've struck a nerve with people who are sheltering in place and we hope to help as many people as possible." 

The non-profit, Freecycle, is still operating but has asked its local moderators to allow only essential items to be exchanged. The non-profit facilitates passing along items for free with the goal of keeping them out of a landfill and members are being reminded to avoid contact with others and disinfect anything they leave out or pick up. Craigslist is still operating and you can also still schedule an appointment with Junkluggers, which will take larger items off your hands for a fee. 

Contactless donation locations

There are several other donation spots still open during the shutdown that don't require face-to-face contact. 

Helpsy is accepting anything you can wear, sleep in, or dry yourself off with. It can be in any condition as long as it's clean, dry, and odorless. Helpsy partners with thrift stores and has bin locations in Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx. They also have residential pickups in certain locations. 

Some organizations are holding periodic curbside donation drives during the pandemic. One of these is Little Essentials, which provides supplies for at-risk families with young children in NYC.  

Usagain has more than 500 drop-off zones in the tri-state area and all their exterior bins are still open for donations of shoes and clothes. The for-profit company resells the donations.


Headshot of Emily Myers

Emily Myers

Senior Writer/Podcast Producer

Emily Myers is a senior writer, podcast host, and producer at Brick Underground. She writes about issues ranging from market analysis and tenants' rights to the intricacies of buying and selling condos and co-ops. As host of the Brick Underground podcast, she has earned four silver awards from the National Association of Real Estate Editors.

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