How Can I Get My Kids to Donate Old Toys?

How Can I Get My Kids to Donate Old Toys?

I'd like to donate some of my kids' stuff (toys, clothes, etc.), but they get upset whenever I even bring it up — even though it's been ages since they've used any of it. How can I help them understand the importance of giving to those who are less fortunate, especially around the holidays?
- Anna

When it comes to donating their own things, it's common for kids (especially younger ones) to put up a fuss. Children often grow attached to their possessions, so it's natural for them to not want to part with them. But even preschoolers are old enough to learn about generosity, compassion, and the importance of helping others. Donating their old toys is a great way to begin that lesson.

When talking about donating, keep your child's age and maturity in mind. Try something simple and straightforward, like: "Some people don't have as much money as we do to buy things like toys. I know you used to like that doll, but you haven't played with her in a really long time and you have lots of other dolls. Just think how happy this doll could make another little girl who doesn't have one."

After introducing the idea, ask your kids to help with choosing which things to donate as a family. Here are some tips to get them involved:

If you're giving away toys, furniture, or baby items, make sure they have all their parts, aren't broken, and haven't been recalled (for recall information, just type in the product name on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's website). Be sure that electronic toys actually work (some organizations won't take toys without working batteries). If you're donating clothes, chuck the ones with stains, tears, or holes.

Enlisting your kids in the process of donating — and choosing where to send items, whether it's the local Goodwill or a homeless shelter — not only will help them experience the joy of giving, but might open their eyes (and yours, too!) to all the remarkable things to be grateful for in their own lives.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: December 2013

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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Related Resources
OrganizationU.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) This federal agency collects information about consumer goods and issues recalls on unsafe or dangerous products.
OrganizationBetter Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance This site offers information on more than 300 charities and whether they meet the Better Business Bureau's standards.
Web This site, which is a project of the National Association of State Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs) provides toy safety information for consumers.
Web SiteSERVEnet This site contains information on volunteering and community service opportunities.
Web SiteYouth Venture Youth Venture helps young people develop their own opportunities for leadership through community service organizations, small business ventures, or after-school clubs.
OrganizationRonald McDonald House Charities Ronald McDonald House Charities provides comfort and care to families with children in the hospital.
Web SiteHabitat for Humanity A nonprofit housing organization building simple, decent, affordable housing in partnership with people in need.
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