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Support the Troops by Donating Your Unwanted Items

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Whether you're in the midst of spring or fall housecleaning, preparing for a PCS move or simply embarking on a household organization project, there are several military-friendly places that are more than willing to accept your gently used clothing, toys, books and household goods.

Basically, you can gain an organized, clutter free home and help military families all at the same time. To help get you started, here are several places and organizations that are in need of various items.

Clothes, Shoes, Toys and Household Items
Many active duty military installations have at least one thrift shop that caters to the needs of military families. For example, Air Force Bases have the Airman's Attic; the Army has various thrift shops—such as Fort Campbell's Backdoor Boutique—that are located on numerous posts; and the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society has dozens of thrift shops located on bases within the United States and OCONUS.

Most of the thrift shops accept gently used clothes, shoes, toys, household items, small appliances, CDs, DVDs, and furniture. Their hours of operation vary but most shops have drop off bins which is great for those times when you can't arrive during normal operating hours.

Books
There are several ways that you can donate your gently used books to deployed servicemembers. Through Operation Paperback or Books for Soldiers you can sign up and send your books directly to servicemembers, whereas through Books for Troops you send your books directly to the organization and they'll disperse them.

Other great places that generally welcome donated reading material are military hospitals and rehabilitation facilities. Also, most pediatric units will gladly accept donated children's books. However just to be on the safe side, before you haul boxes of books to any medical facility, it's a good idea to call ahead and confirm that they do, indeed, accept donated books.

E-Books
Have an undamaged Kindle that you no longer use? Donate the reader and charger to E-Books for Troops. Once received, they'll service the device and then send it to deployed servicemembers. Specifically, E-Books for Troops is seeking Kindle 2 U.S., Kindle 2 International, Kindle 3 Wi-Fi, and Kindle 3 3G. They do not accept Kindle 1s or Kindle DXs.

Electronic Recyclables
Help the Alameda County (California) Blue Star Moms fund their troops support projects by donating your electronic products and accessories to a program called Recycle for Soldiers.

Items that Recycle for Soldiers accepts include:

  • Cell Phones
  • Ink Cartridges
  • Laptops
  • Inkjet Cartridges
  • iPods
  • Digital Cameras
  • Video Games
  • Game Consoles
  • PDAs
Participating in this program is super easy. You can either:

1. Send your items to:
Alameda County Blue Star Moms
P.O. Box 2006
Fremont, CA 94536-0006
(When mailing your recyclables directly to the ACBSM please include a SASE so that they can mail you a receipt for your donation.)

2. Print a free shipping label and mail your items directly to Recycle for Soldiers. If you choose this option, make sure and include a note instructing them to credit your donation to the Alameda County Blue Star Moms.

Furniture and Appliances
Besides the thrift shops on military installations, Operation Homefront is another great place to donate your furniture and/or large appliances. To find a chapter near you, please go to the Operation Homefront Web site and enter your zip code in the search feature that's located in the upper left corner of the page.

Paper Bags from the Commissary
Instead of throwing away the paper sacks that you get from the commissary, you might want to consider donating them to food pantries. Why? Because they're sturdy (especially the paper sacks that are inside the plastic bags) and they provide an easy means for recipients to transport the items from the food pantry to their home.

Not sure where to find a food pantry? Besides community sponsored food pantries and those found at many churches, most military installations have emergency food banks to help meet the needs of military families that are in a financial crisis.

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