As I watched my Facebook feed explode with outrage over today's school closing, one thing was crystal clear: a major concern involves the fact that many kids lack winter gear suitable for walking to school or waiting at bus stops in the frigid weather. So let's do something about that, shall we? Here are 8 ways to donate winter gear to kids in need, in Massachusetts and beyond. If you're home with your kids, take 15 minutes to gather items for donation!
And if your kids need winter gear, check out pickup details at the linked sites below. I'm so grateful to these organizations for the work they do to help so many.
1. Room to Grow. Probably one of the most well know agencies in the Boston area, the mission of Room to Grow is to build a strong foundation for babies in poverty. Focusing on children aged newborn through three years old, donations of all gently used or new clothing and baby gear is accepted at their main location in Boston, as well as other various donation locations. Tax receipts are provided.
2. Cradles to Crayon. Cradles to Crayons provides children from birth through age 12 living in homeless or low-income situations with essential items such coats, clothing, shoes, toys, books, and school supplies. All clothing types, including winter gear, are accepted and appreciated. The main donation location is in Brighton but there are many others around the state and the online tax receipt makes it easy to claim the donation come tax time.
3. Catie’s Closet. Catie’s Closet provides a unique solution to kids in need by setting up “stores/walk in closets” right in schools so children in pre-K through grade 12 have immediate access to what they need. Catie’s Closet's drop off location in Dracut is open the first and third Saturdays of each month from 9am – 12pm. In addition to clothing and winter gear, they accept toiletry items. A most wanted items list is listed on their website.
4. Second Chances. With several drop off locations in Somerville, Cambridge and Watertown, Second Chances makes donating gently used clothing and winter gear really easy; as long as it is wearable, they’ll take it. The openings of their donation bins are only 2 x 2 so make sure to place your clothing, shoes, and accessories in a small or medium-sized plastic garbage bag (no hangers and no boxes). Second Chances does not provide tax receipts for items donated.
5. Boston Medical Center Grow Clinic. The Grow Clinic at Boston Medical Center in Boston depends on donations in order to assist their clients. Food, supplements, toys, and clothing for children ages 3 – 8 years old is highly needed and appreciated. Call a few days before your anticipated drop off, or if you’d like a tour of the location, a few weeks before.
6. Burlington Coat Factory. Until January 19, families can donate coats for men, women, or children at most Burlington Coat Factory locations via BCF's Warm Coats & Warm Hearts Drive. Drop off boxes are found at each location and once your coats are dropped off a greater will present you with a 10% off store coupon. Coats do not need to be dry cleaned beforehand but should be in good condition.
7. Gifts to Give. Gifts to Give is housed in a former golf ball factory and focuses its giving primarily to the south coast of MA. They accept most gently used clothing and toy items for newborns through school aged children, though there are some things they don’t take, so be sure to check this list before heading to their main Acushnet drop off location or any of their other locations.
8. One Warm Coat. One Warm Coat is an aggregate site that lists donation locations by state (just pop in your zip code to find donation locations). While it may take a bit more digging, you’ll surely find a coat donation location somewhere close to you.
UPDATED 1/8/15 TO ADD #9. There are likely options right in your neighborhood! Check with schools in your town about donation/pickup options. Also, sometimes police/fire stations or other community organizations will host donation drives.
Image credit: Christine Koh