Cleaning? Downsizing? These Chicago Non-Profits Want Your Stuff!
We all have too much stuff. Whether we buy it to fill our homes or our lives, items and belongings provide a symbol of status, security, and stability. Chicagoans are especially guilty of overbuying; though apartments here are—on average—far larger than those in other major American cities. With so much space, shouldn’t you figure out a way to fill it?
However, two events bring the reality of this seemingly benign situation to light. The first is spring cleaning. Decluttering is concomitant with this ritualized purge; when pushing aside books and belongings to scrub away the winter grime, you might catch yourself wishing you had fewer pieces of furniture to work around. Conversely, you may also realize it’s time to upgrade some of your belongings—your college duvet might not make the cut three years after graduation.
The other event? Moving season. Like many cities, most moves within Chicago occur in the summertime. The city’s hot and humid summers make this process difficult, and securing moving aids can be difficult and expensive. Loading and unloading boxes of items and furniture is the most unpleasant part of living under a lease—wouldn’t you rather make it easier for yourself? Fewer items mean fewer trips up those three flights of stairs. The same applies if you’re thinking about hiring movers. Most professionals determine their rates by items and time spent. If you have fewer items, your rate will be significantly lower, meaning you’ll save money—and a bit of time.
Regardless of your situation, downsizing in Chicago is a very real struggle. However, you don’t necessarily have to dump your old furniture in the back alley. The city is full of non-profit organizations who will gladly take extra belongings off your hands. Below is an itemized guide to some of the best, most lauded and convenient non-profits in Chicago.
Bed—Mattress and Box Spring
The Inner Voice—1621 W. Walnut Street, Chicago, IL
Finding a place to donate your used bed or mattress can be difficult—the health risks associated with city mattresses is enough to deter most organizations from accepting your donation. However, what should you do with a lightly used bed? Maybe you purchased it new at the beginning of your last lease, but you’ve since decided to move in with your significant other. You’ll only need one bed, but you don’t want to trash your new-ish mattress. The Inner Voice can take it off your hands.
This organization, located near Union Park in Near West Side, accepts clothing, cleaning supplies, office supplies, household items, and—most applicable—mattresses and box springs. The non-profit benefits Chicago’s Emergency Shelter Network, which provides housing, emergency shelter, and homeless prevention services. If your donation is large enough, they can pick it up right from your home. You can drop smaller donations off at their base, located at 1621 W. Walnut St. If you have a question or would like to schedule a pickup, contact them at (312)666-8110.
The Ark—6450 N. California Avenue, Chicago, IL
Furniture is one of the most easily discarded items you might have. Throwing an old loveseat into the alley barely takes any effort, and, if you’re moving, you can cheaply and easily replace items once you’ve moved into your new apartment. However, that couch could be put to good use by a non-profit organization. The Ark provides one of the best and most convenient furniture donation resources in the city.
This non-profit organization benefits low income families in the Chicagoland Jewish community, and they will accept household items, furniture, clothing, and appliances under ten years old. They provide pickup services to the city and northern suburbs, but this service requires a donation of at least two large pieces of furniture. Smaller items can be dropped at their West Ridge location. For questions and pickup requests, call (773)862-5011.
Books and Other Media
Open Books—651 W. Lake Street, Chicago, IL
We’ve all been there—you never realize how many books you own until you have to move. These items, though sometimes invaluable, are heavy, bulky, and an all-around pain in the butt when they’re not sitting on a shelf. Whether you’re moving or cleaning, you might be in the process of paring down your home library. Selling used books to thrift stores is generally difficult, so donation is often the best option.
Open Books will accept nearly all sellable books in good condition, as well as LPs, CDs, and DVDs. They cannot take encyclopedias, dictionaries, thesauruses, sets of law books, magazines, journals, VHS tapes, or pre-college textbooks. Though they do not provide pickup services, the organization has two locations—in the West Loop and Pilsen—which makes donating easy. Open Books also hosts special sales events tied to neighborhood celebrations, such as Second Fridays and the Pilsen Flea Market. They also host literary enrichment programs, creative writing workshops, literary talks, and book swaps.
Bridge to Success—1236 N. Halsted Street, Chicago, IL
When it comes to old sweatshirts, t-shirts, jeans, and casual wear, donation is easy—you can run to your nearest Good Will or Salvation Army and rest assured they’ll be properly distributed. However, when it comes to donating professional and business casual clothing, the donation process is a bit more difficult. You want to provide these resources to an organization who will put your suits and skirts to good use. Bridge to Success is the perfect non-profit recipient for your used, ill-fitting, or out-of-season business apparel.
Located just east of University Village/Little Italy, this non-profit accepts professional and business clothing, casual clothing, shoes, and accessories. Bridge to Success benefits low- and no-income men, women, and youth job-seekers by providing clothing suitable for interviews and office jobs. Though pickup is unavailable, their Halsted location is accessible via the Blue Line and Metra, as well as the Halsted bus (#8). If you have a question about donations or the organization, give them a call at (312)733-9742.
Children’s Clothing and Supplies
Cradles to Crayons—Multiple Locations
Parents understand the speed with which kids grow out of clothing and toys. As a result, you may be accumulating useless materials faster than you can replace them. Like with your professional and business casual clothing, you want to ensure your lightly used children’s items reach the demographic they’re meant for. Cradles to Crayons is the perfect fit for children’s donations.
Cradles to Crayons benefits low income and homeless children, providing essential items and supplies. They accept and distribute children’s clothing, shoes, books, developmental toys, and school supplies. Though pickup is not an available option, this non-profit organization has dozens of drop-off locations throughout Chicagoland; they service the city, northern suburbs, and southwest suburbs. If you have a question about your donation, feel free to contact the organization at (312)767-1008, or visit their Donation page.
Zealous Good—Multiple Locations and Charities
This organization is an invaluable resource for Chicagoland donations. Zealous Good matches your items with appropriate non-profit organizations, ensuring your belongings get into the hands of the right people. Use their donation form to determine what you have and want to donate. The organization then match your items with charities around the city—you can choose your preferred non-profit while they provide the drop off or pickup information.