Spark that Joy Right Outta Here
14 places in Austin to donate all the things that don't spark joy
Marie Kondo-ing is the new spring cleaning. Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the book-turned-Netflix-sensation, has inspired an almost religious fervor, compelling Austinites to pack their Priuses full of items that don’t “spark joy” and dump them off by the carload.
Goodwill and thrift stores are simple solutions to all that unwanted stuff, but there are organizations that can benefit from your new minimalistic approach. Taking the extra step to donate gently used clothing, furniture, books, crafts, beauty supplies, bikes, health equipment, building supplies, and other items is an easy way to make a big impact.
Here are some of the spots in town that will do lots of good with your old goods. Don't see your item here or have something you’re not sure where to donate? Check out the City of Austin’s handy “What do I do with?” website here.
AGE of Austin
What to donate: Health equipment
Why: AGE of Central Texas offers programs, resources, and education for older adults. AGE also has adult day health care, caregiver services, early memory loss support, computer training, and a “lending library” of health equipment. As with many of these organizations, it also has a wishlist of items you can pick from.
Any Baby Can
What to donate: New and gently used kids items
Why: Being a parent is daunting to say the least. Any Baby Can partners with parents so children reach their full potential and helps guide families in building confidence, nurturing healthy relationships, and planning for the future. The goal is for all parents to feel supported, valued, and empowered while giving the next generation the same opportunity.
What to donate: Musical gear, instruments
Why: Anthropos Arts was founded to address a need in Austin for high-quality music education for low-income students. The group connects area youth with professional musicians for lessons and mentoring. Students build confidence, relationships, and have the opportunity to perform in some of Austin’s biggest music events. This organization will take your gear and put it to great musical use.
Austin Creative Reuse
What to donate: Art and crafting supplies
Why: Austin Creative Reuse is a magical little store in The Linc filled with art supplies, materials, and funky things like old postcards, dress patterns, and vacation slides. It promotes art and creativity, but also fosters conservation by asking people to choose to reuse. In addition to keeping these items out of the landfill, ACR also hosts teacher trainings, rents out its workshop, and encourages people to find new ways to get creative with reused items.
Austin Pets Alive! Thrift
What to donate: New and gently used housewares, clothing
Why: Because puppies! And kitties! The thrift store of this beloved nonprofit model has a model similar to that Goodwill you’ve been supplying with one added benefit: all net proceeds directly support their life-saving programs. APA! Thrift now has two locations — 5801 Burnet Rd. and 1409 W. Oltorf St. — where you can drop off items. Of course, if you’re looking for cute and curated stuff, you can also shop at their boutique-style thrift stores.
What to donate: Building materials, furniture, appliances, and fixtures
Why: Even without committing to help building an entire Habitat for Humanity home, you can still help by donating leftover supplies. The benefits for taking stuff to ReStore are threefold: store revenue supports Habitat's homeownership programs, it functions as a community recycling center, and it re-sells building materials to people at an affordable price.
Caritas of Austin
What to donate: Food, toiletries, household items, toys
Why: The folks living on the street represent only a fraction of those experiencing homelessness. Throughout the year, Caritas of Austin provides services to 10,000 of the individuals. These services include assistance with housing, food, education, and employment services along with efforts around refugee resettlement and veteran's needs.
What to donate: A range of household items, clothing, craft supplies, personal items
Why: Casa Marianella is the only homeless shelter in Austin dedicated solely to immigrants. Sixty-five percent of the shelter residents, including children, are asylum seekers and many are coming from detention. Casa Marianella provides shelter, food, and full-support services to refugees and immigrants from more than 40 countries.
Dress For Success
What to donate: Professional (cleaned) clothing, beauty products
Why: Dress for Success empowers women by providing training and services to help them re-enter the workforce. In addition to professional clothing, Dress for Success also takes beauty products. In fact, there’s a boutique-style setup at Dress for Success that has dressing rooms, makeup stations, and racks of clothing specifically geared toward crafting a professional appearance.
What to donate: Books (but check the banned list)
Why: With over 140,000 people incarcerated in Texas, it’s kind of mind-boggling that Inside Books is the only books-to-prisoners program in the state. The organization sends free books and educational materials to prisoners while also working to promote literacy, reading, and education both inside prisons and in the community at large.
OutYouth’s Q Clothing Drive
What to donate: Prom-esque clothes (through 3/30)
Why: Yes, prom can be both awesome and weird, but everyone should get to have one. OutYouth serves Central Texas LGBTQ+ youth and allies in helping with healthy development through classes, programs, and training. Each year, the organization also hosts an inclusive prom event. This is an opportunity to pull out that fancy clothing we never get to wear in Austin and donate it to a kid who wants to look their best.
What to donate:Cell phones
Why: Serving survivors of abuse, assault, exploitation, and domestic violence, the SAFE alliance is a dynamic organization. The organization needs many items, and the list changes pretty frequently, but cell phones are particularly useful for women and children heading back out into the world.
Settlement Home for Children
What to donate: Anything that could be resold
Why: The Settlement Home cares for children from abusive backgrounds. They come from all over the system, such as Child Protective Services, probation, and post-adoption. Donated items are sold at the Settlement Home's annual sale and profits support children and the home's services. In addition to drop-offs, you can request a pickup online and a volunteer will schedule a time.
Yellow Bike Project
What to donate: Bikes and bike parts
Why: Less traffic, less exhaust, more exercise … there are a million reasons that bikes are better. The Austin Yellow Bike Project advocates for bike use, operates community bike shops, and teaches bike mechanics and maintenance. Shops are free to the public and have programming specially targeted toward children and people who may not be able to afford a bike.