Give it away now

Friday, September 18th, 2009

I’ve spent a fair bit of time recently trying to simplify the things that I have.  Instead of throwing things away, I’ve tried more reuse – mostly by giving them to other people or groups.  Today, I realized that I’ve become somewhat of an expert in reuse donations to charity.  Here are some places you can donate some of your stuff around Vancouver.  I’m excluding groups who collect clothing or furniture for resale in thrift stores – although there’s nothing really wrong with that either.

Free Geek Vancouver

Keyboard“Helping the needy get nerdy since the beginning of the 3rd millennium”
With that fabulous motto, Free Geek will take almost any piece of technology – working or not.  There’s a full list of what they take and don’t take.  If you have a skid of old CRT monitors at the office, I think they’ll even come and pick them up.  Wrap up your extra computer power cords. Count up what you don’t need.  I found I had four keyboards, a family of serial, PS2 and USB mice, cords, hubs, weird cards, removable drives, RAM and a lot more that I wasn’t using – without even trying.  Free Geek takes them and builds computers for people who otherwise couldn’t afford a computer.  They also teach people how to build computers. If they can’t use it, they recycle it ethically.

MS Society’s Equipment Provision Program

This program loans medical equipment to people with multiple sclerosis who otherwise couldn’t afford it.  Because multiple sclerosis is often relapsing-remitting, someone may not have a symptom like paralysis all the time – or it may even go away.  So, they take donations of mobility equipment (like wheelchairs), lifts and air conditioners.  Sonja is very nice and will even value an item and give you a tax receipt for it. The ALS Society also takes gifts-in-kind but don’t issue tax receipts.

Red Cross Health Equipment Loans

The Red Cross has three programs that they accept donations of medical equipment.  One of their programs is geared towards children’s medical equipment.  They accept wheelchairs, walkers, lifts, nebulizers, feeding pumps and “other durable medical equipment.”   I would give them a call to find out more about what equipment they accept.  The difficult to find contact information at the Red Cross makes me want to help them with their content.

Lookout Emergency Aid Society

This group is looking for donations that gives people a hand setting up a home.  Pots, pans, dishes, cutlery, kettles, bed linens, towels, single mattresses.  Lookout has a huge list of items that they need – there is a winter-specific list.

Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter

Similarly to Lookout, Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter look for items to help women start new lives. Their list of stuff includes gently used towels, bed linens, cleaning supplies, toiletries and toys.  They also suggest donating tickets to the Vancouver Aquarium or Science World – not something you have just around the house but it’s something that would thrill a kid.


Vancouver Public Library

As much as I hate to part with any book, you can donate used books, DVDs and CDs to the Vancouver Public Library. Their Donated Materials Program accepts library-ish material in good condition and current formats (no videotapes or that copy of Windows 3.1 on floppy disks).

Third World Eye Care Society

Those glasses that were once so stylish – or they’re just the wrong prescription. You can mail them to the address with the Third World Eye Care Society or just take them to any optometrist. My optometrist was telling me how she spends her nights sorting through buckets of glasses. There’s someone – somewhere – who can use them. Also, their fundraiser seems to be called Eye Ball. How awesome is that?

Furniture Bank

Furniture Bank…yes, located in Toronto but I can’t find a Vancouver equivalent. They pick up furniture (an invaluable service if you’re busy moving or not able to move your own furniture) and distribute it to people who need it. And, they give you a tax receipt.

North Shore Neighbourhood House

The North Shore Neighbourhood House takes donations of items for households and kids for items that are new or nearly new and working. In their list of acceptable items, they take donations of furniture, home electronics, toys, video games, and locking file cabinets(?) and a lot more.

Harvest Project

This group takes a lot of different donations. But, they are really looking for interview-appropriate and office-appropriate clothes. Have any high heel shoes you don’t wear? A suit that doesn’t quite fit anymore? Harvest Project is even looking for steeled-toed boots. They don’t provide tax receipts; but, you do get to feel good that your unworn heels are helping someone.

Fearless City

Donate your old phones to artists. Fearless City collects old phones to distribute to Downtown East Side artists. While the link is a little old, I think the program is still going. They’ll also accept donations of working digital cameras.

So, go look around your home. Find some stuff that you don’t use that someone else could use.  Living a completely minimalist lifestyle, consider donating money to one of these great organizations.  They all accept cash.

Do you know any other groups that accept gifts-in-kind in Greater Vancouver? Add it below!