Donating & Recycling Toys

Parent Q&A

Select any title to view the full question and replies.

  • Toy/clothing swaps?

    (2 replies)

    Hey folks,

    Are there any groups that do toy or clothing swaps with any kind of frequency? It would be great to have a space to be processing through all this baby gear in community with others. Thank you!

    Great question!

    My kids are young adults now, so I'm past the age of handing off baby and child gear. However, I am very active in my local Buy Nothing Group and see loads of good quality gear being exchanged on a regular (daily!) basis. Not what you're looking for, but I recently outfitted a guest room with significant contributions from my group, including a like-new upholstered queen-sized bed frame. Buy Nothing Groups are hyper-local. They are all about building community through the free exchange of goods and services. Consider seeing if there is a group in your neighborhood.

    I love your thoughtful post.   Reuse (at both ends, acquiring and retiring) does take a bit of effort and patience.  I am a seasoned participant at it.

    What I have seen is mostly friend/family circles passing things around among themselves, and parents who post needs and offers on Freecycle, Nextdoor and Facebook, and my favorite, which is yard sales.   

    My child's preschool (this was pre-covid) used to have an annual yard sale, which raised some money, but probably more beneficial, it was like a swap-meet for families and we ended up recycling a lot of things among ourselves. 

    Until my kid started caring about his clothes, almost all his stuff came from yard sales, etc.  Up until at least first grade, most of his Christmas gifts also were yard sale finds that I collected in summer or fall, and squirreled away until holidays and birthday.  Many kids' items at yard sales are barely used or just take a little effort with cleanup (try dish soap + a magic eraser) and presentation (make a toy gift basket, use treat bags or attractive containers from a dollar store, and curate groups of toys like old playmobil, duplo, dolls, cars, etc into an attractive unit) 

    Now as a teen, my kid & friends enjoy thrifting for wardrobe finds, which I think is so cool. 

    Infant gear is a  problem area for waste, because the bay area is fairly affluent and many new moms are gifted a mountain of things for newborns.    Some techniques for new moms in this position are:  create a wish list that includes clothes in 6-24 month sizes otherwise people will give you newborn sizes only, and don't be afraid to specify diapers on a wish list.   If you receive too much clothing, either try to make a few retail exchanges for the same outfits in larger sizes, (appreciating the same thoughtful gift),  or don't snip the tags until you are about to use the item.  New-with-tags baby things that you didn't end up using are easier to donate and appreciated by charities that support moms in need, as some can accept new but not used items.  If you end up with too many diapers, these are very easy to donate (food banks and social workers need them). 

    When my baby's grandma insisted she needed to buy a high chair (before my baby was sitting up or eating solids), I insisted we try a couple of yard sales first.  I just went to Craigs List Yard Sale section and searched for key word High Chair, and instantly found 3 options in my own neighborhood.   I, Grandma and the seller were all very pleased with the outcome.   Try the technique of searching for a key word in Craigslist Yard sale posts related to kids age, even if you don't need that exact thing:  Crib, duplo, baby kids, etc, to find a family yard sale that will have things for the age you need. 

  • Recycling broken toys

    (4 replies)

    Hi Everyone,

    I am in search of an earth-friendly, cheap option for disposing or recycling broken toys, or toys with missing components. These are toys that we would not be able to or want to donate because they are essentially unusable or broken beyond repair. I have checked out Terracycle but they are cost prohibitive and do not currently have programs for general nonspecifically branded toys. If there are any parents out there who would be willing to join with me, I am open to that as well. Thanks in advance for any leads, advice or wanting to join in the recycling and saving the earth from microplastics!

    I'm so glad that you're asking this question! I, too, am concerned about this same exact issue. I have some friends who live in North Berkeley and they've told me about a perfect place to check out. It's the El Cerrito recycling center at 7501 Schmidt Lane. Apparently, there's a section where folks put out random freebies - books, games, household items, toys, etc. I believe that toys that are missing certain components might be able to be re-purposed there. I imagine that artists probably scour that spot often for "found art" pieces to use in sculptures, collages, etc. I've been struggling with the same issue for years now. My wife thinks I've just become a freakish "hoarder" (possibly partly true), since I have random bags and boxes of items our kids want to be discarded but I can't bear to add to the landfill! Such a difficult situation. I wish I had never allowed us to go down this terible path of allowing millions of little plastic toys into our lives... This has been my biggest regret on this parenting journey, for sure!


    Very glad that you're thinking about this, Terri. You might call the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse, and see if they'll accept such toys, or if they have ideas about what you could do with them:

    A long shot is Mark Olivier, the Berkeley guy who makes garden art and installations from a wide, wide range of recycled found objects. His Web site seems to be down, but there's information here:  (If you live in or near Berkeley, it's just a fun place to visit, especially with kids.

    This is the $5M question of parenting, right? I do wish I had a solid gold answer for you, but I don't. As you found, TerraCycle is awesome in the amount of programs it offers, but none for a mixed-brands of toys. Sigh. Have you tried posting to FreeCycle or do you belong to a local "chapter" of Buy Nothing (via Facebook)? I've not had a lot of luck in giving away broken toys or ones w/ missing parts on my local page, "Buy Nothing Alameda", but maybe you'd do better? Another option is East Bay Center for Creative Reuse, on Shattuck btwn 46th and 47th: It seems they're now taking donations again. Yay! Though they don't specify what they take, so a trip there may be in vain.

    I'm also looking for a non-cost-prohibitive way to recycle our family's broken/worn-out sports gear. Terra Cycle has a program, but it's $$. If you also have stuff to contribute, let's band together! And please reach out if you get any good ideas or ways we can collaborate on toy recycling. TY for caring for our planet. You're not alone. 

    One solution is to sell it cheaply on Ebay as incomplete - for spare/replacement parts.   It's a bit labor intensive, and I think it will work better for toys from major brands.   I have bought spare parts this way and appreciate those sellers who make it possible. 

  • My children are starting to outgrow many of their toys and we are re-organizing their playroom to make space for new games.  I kept a lot from the oldest but the youngest has different taste and is not into everything.  We are now deciding what to store (we have the space) for future kids in the family or even grandkids and what to get rid of (to friends or donate).  So far we decided to store the lego collection (we have a large one and I know kids who enjoyed playing with their parents' collections so I know it will last), k'nex collection, magnatiles (they are compact when organized and really cool and expensive toy), and a few special/expensive/fancy barbies.  I'm wondering if I'm missing something.  For those of you with space to store and older kids, what did you decide to store for the next generation or in case anyone in family has a kid who can enjoy it (i.e. for nieces/nephews)?  I'm mainly focusing on durability (don't want to store anything that will degrade with time) and things that are likely to still be useful and in-demand years from now.  My kids will get a say too before we get rid of anything of course. Thanks. 

    We stored the most beloved stuffies, some of the cooler non-electronic things (e.g., a block puzzle toy they played with endlessly and engenders lots of creativity), but mostly books that they read over and over because I was so thrilled to inherit the ones from my childhood when I had kids myself (Dr. Seus Sleep Book!!!). Some things I store for my kids when they have their own kids, some I store for myself for sentimental reasons, because I know I'll enjoy seeing them at some point and being reminded of when my kids were little.

    If you have brio (or Thomas), I would suggest storing those too - or at least the wooden track. My parents stored my old Brio and my kids play with it.  The wood sets, in particular, are timeless.  I would caution against the inclination to store the more expensive Barbies.  My parents saved my "collectible" Barbies (still in boxes, untouched) from my childhood but once my 5 year old daughter saw them, out of the boxes they came, brushes in hair, outfits all over the house, before I could stop her.  Now they are just "regular" Barbies with little-to-no value.  Oops!  She hasn't found my Madame Alexander dolls (yet).  Haha.  So, if you have dolls with value, consider selling them now and putting the money in a 529.  :)

    We kept the wooden Thomas stuff, the American Girl baby and girl dolls, the wooden toy kitchen, and a few other things. Not too much.

    You don't mention how old your kids are.

    Wooden block.. Even as young teens, they took the Kapla blocks out again to do stuff with.

    We had/have a large Playmobil collection which I've saved a lot of.  No idea if it will prove worth it over the years, but they've held up well so far (going on 20 years now).

  • I have two young kids who have several aunts and uncles and several sets of grandparents (through divorce and remarriage). My husband and I are the only ones of our generation who have kids so our kids are the only children in the family. Our family generously and lovingly lavishes gifts on our kids - we are so lucky as to have tons of clothes, toys, books, blankies, etc for our kids despite having bought almost nothing. However, it’s getting to be too much! We live in a small house with very little storage, and we generally try to live an anti-materialist, make-do-with-what-you-have lifestyle (nothing extreme, but, like, 5 stuffed animals are probably enough for a two-year-old).

    We’re not sure what to do with all the gifts and extra stuff we keep getting. Whenever anyone asks what the kids need we say, “nothing, we barely know what to do with what we already have!” But the stuff keeps coming in anyway. We had planned to just accept the gifts and then donate what we don’t need/want, but I’m realizing how hard it is to get rid of kids stuff! All our friends have too much already, and we’ve tried three separate second hand stores that have taken a tiny fraction of what we’re trying to get rid of. Even Goodwill was refusing donations when we tried to take them there. I’m certain someone could use these beautiful clothes, toys, stuffed animals, etc, and am really resistant to just throwing them away, but meanwhile they are slowly taking over every corner of our house. Any advice, either on politely and gracefully turning away gifts for the kids, or on what to do with the stuff we don’t have space for? Anyone here need kids stuff or know someone who does? 

    I have had good experiences getting rid of things in the Buy Nothing groups on FB, as well as a couple of family themed buy/sell/trade groups (one in Oakland and one for Berkeley/Oakland). There is also a group related to The Mamahood on FB called The Giving Circle, and I've found lots of folks who need baby and kids items on there. 

    We have the same problem with the accumulation of stuff, and I sometimes tell people that we do need to give things away if they get things without consulting us first. I also have ongoing conversations with my kid about him choosing old toys to give away to make room for the new ones, and he participates in that process. 

    Preschools! Especially ones in underserved areas that rely on donations to supplement their budget. And depending on the age range of the toys, elementary classroom teachers. You can post in the marketplace section.

    There is a great group on Face Book called Buy Nothing East Bay where you can give away anything to families who are looking for what you post.  It is very easy and a great community to be part if. 

    There is a relatively new organization called ToyCycle that might work for you. They will pick up kids items in bulk. I believe they operate out of Oakland. You could give them a try. Good luck!

    We have struggled with the same problem on and off over the years. I have never asked family members to stop giving gifts (though, like you, when asked what they need/want I say “nothing”). What I have learned is easy and effective is to “disappear” some gifts before they are opened. So if a grandparent sends two boxes, I give my kids one of them and put the other one immediately in the donation pile. When toys and things are unopened, there is no end to the ways to donate them - everyone will happy take them. As my kids get older, my plan is to let them open all the gifts, then immediately decide one to keep and one to donate to other kids who don’t have as much. Hope that helps. 

    Hi, I have a friend who teaches in north Richmond, one of the poorest areas in our Bay Area. Her families can use clothes and toys for any age, so just email me and I will get your much appreciated donations to her. Thanks, Josie 

    For toys, Habitot, the hands on children's museum in downtown Berkeley, can take them for the toy lending library. They don't take stuffed toys, gun toys, violent toys, etc.

    For clothes, I post on BPN or for free that I have a bag or two (sort by approximate size), and someone usually will come pick up.

    For toddler knick knacks, same thing, post for free, and there are always some family who needs it.

    I don't know how to go about selling stuff, seems more trouble than it's worth.

    quarterly, at the dimond branch library in oakland there is a children's clothing, toy, and equiptment swap. you can take everything there and there is no expectation that you have to take something back in return.

    Hi there!  If you have clean clothes in good condition please consider donating to one of the Lifelong Community Medical clinics that have a pediatric clinic-West Berkeley and the San Pablo site for sure.  Parents are always interested in free clean good to excellent clothes/shoes/jackets.  You may have to do a google search and make some phone calls to find the pediatric clinic but I know parents have happily accepted clothes I’ve brought in the past.

    Hi, There are Buy Nothing Facebook groups by neighborhood where people offer items for free to neighbors. Also you can offer things for free on the Nextdoor app.

    Hope this helps.

    There is a wonderful resource for low-income families in West Oakland called St. Vincent's Day Home, 1086 8th St.  They will accept drop-offs during business hours.  They will make sure your donations get to very grateful families in need.  

    Also, on the border of Oak/Berk is Oakland Elizabeth House, 6423 Colby St.  They are less convenient because you have to call to set up an appointment to donate and they don't always get back to you in a timely manner:  (510) 658-1380.    They support mothers & children who are in recovery and working hard to get back on their feet after substance abuse or domestic violence.  

    A few ideas. Set up a college savings plan (529?) and ask people to donate to that instead of bringing things. Ask for things that are small. Ask for things you actually need or want. Rain boots? Watercolors?Ask for consumables like coloring books or work books. You need to have a list at the ready, because saying you need need nothing is not working. 

    For the toys (and maybe clothes) try toycycle. It’s a newish site where you can post toys for free, or have them pick up your stuff and sell it (consignment). Other that that I get rid of kid stuff by posting it for free on nextdoor or the local Facebook buy nothing families group. Those options are easy bc you don’t have to go anywhere - people come pick up. 

    Try the Buy Nothing East Bay Families group on Facebook! 

    I’ve found Facebook mama groups to be a helpful resource for donating and receiving child-related items! I recommend joining your local “Buy Nothing” group (depending on your neighborhood). There are a couple of general ones as well, like “Buy Nothing East Bay Families.” Other donation groups: “TM: Giving Circle” (must be a member of The Mamahood group first) and “Heart of Solidarity.”

    That said, our family is looking for gender-neutral clothes in 18 months and up, wooden toys, and children’s musical instruments! Let me know if you can help. Thanks for your generosity!

    Hi,You can contact David at the Gabriel Project. They collect donations of baby and children's items to help pregnant and new moms in need. I'm sure he'd be happy to accept donations from you.David Zarri
    Program Coordinator - The Gabriel Project of California
    The Gabriel Project of the Diocese of Oakland
    davidlzarri [at]
    925 686-9277

    TVMOTC is mothers of multiples group that holds a twice a year consignment sale at the Alameda County Fair Grounds. You can try selling your items there. Here is the link for more information

    Next one is in October. I would read the FAQ and the attached PDF within the FAQ to get yourself familiarized with the process. It's a highly organized event; down to the issuing of online barcodes and seller ID numbers to individually tag your items for sale. So reading up and experiencing the sale first hand will help tremendously in setting your expectations for the sale of your items.

    Hi there, 

    I recommend offering things on the Buy Nothing East Bay Facebook group. It's a little work to post photos, but otherwise really easy and convenient. 

    Or call/email a couple domestic violence or homeless shelters in your area. I donated a lot of clothes to the Elizabeth House (on berkeley/oakland border). Not sure if they take toys but they took all my maternity clothes. 

    There is also the prenatal homeless program in San Francisco. 

    Finally, you could sell a lot of those things back to a 2nd hand or consignment shop like Childs Play in Oakland or Mommy's trading post. Not sure where you live, but I'm sure there is a second hand shop near by. 

    Good luck!


    We have the same problem, and beyond firmly telling the grandparents that we do not want to receive gifts at holidays (it doesn't work), we've also tried to redirect them to things that we would prefer (for us, this means books - they don't take up a lot of space and they are actually used and enjoyed). We say thank you for all gifts, but save the enthusiasm, photos of our daughter using the gift, etc only for the gifts that we actually want to continue receiving.

    For donations, have you tried BANANAS?

  • Legos donation

    (6 replies)

    I have a lot of space Legos that I'd like to see go to a non profit that would use it in a hands on situation. Any ideas?

    I'm the new teen librarian at Berkeley Public Library North Branch and I would be thrilled to have a set of Space Legos - I have an active Middle School group of kids who come here after school and it would be fabulous to have Lego building programs. The set of space Legos sounds especially great for my group. I'd be happy to give you a receipt for your donation. Let me know if you have any questions. 

    Try your local library - a lot of them have LEGO builders clubs and can always use LEGO.

    I'm the Program Director of a large preschool in the Bayview District in San Francisco and would love to use these at our site.  I've got 150 kids there ranging from toddlers-12 year olds, all low-income students of color.  Feel free to check out our website at  I'd be happy to pick up the legos if you decided to donate them to us.


    I'm a teacher at Allendale Elem in Oakland where all of our students would LOVE exploring with those legos!!

    I would be happy to pick them up !!

    Try the Bay Area Childcare Collective. They provide free childcare to racial, economic and environmental justice groups in the Bay Area and have specifically called for Lego donations. This is a great time in our nation's history to donate to this type of organization. Legos make the world go round! Contact email is bayareachildcarecollective [at]  Website is

    I am a public librarian in Oakland and we would love more bricks to support our Lego programs!  We only have two bins now and while the kids are enjoying them, more would go a long way! 

    Please let me know! 

    Jacqueline.overlid [at]

  • Where to donate - massive toy give-away

    (8 replies)

    I have 7 big boxes of toys to donate - we cleaned out my teenage son's room and the haul is shocking. Games, toys, marbles and marble maze, legos, nerf guns, toy cars, and so much more. Would like to donate it all to a nonprofit or school or organization or resource that serves kids in need. Recommendations welcome. Thanks. 

    Someone this week told me about the Oakland Elizabeth House, a transition home for women in need and their children. URL:

    White Pony Express is a fantastic organization in Contra Costa County that holds "Free General Store" events for low-income communities, including toys, clothes and household goods.  You can find out more about them here at

    Harbor House in East Oakland might be interested.

    Harbor House Ministries
    1811 11th Ave. Oakland, CA 94606
    Phone: (510) 534-0165
    Fax: (510) 865-2647

    If they are in good condition and have all the parts, try Bambino. They are located on College Ave by Broadway. It's a thrift shop for Oakland's, Children Hospital. 

    Community impact lab. It's a nonprofit started and run by moms (mostly in San Leandro). They collect baby gear (car seats, blankets, etc) and toddler/kid toys, then make care packages to give directly to refugee and low income moms/families. They also get together every month to cook a massive meal for a domestic violence shelter (the moms all donating different ingredients). They use donations to run garage sales, too, to grow the group. Lastly, they do community-building stuff oriented towards families (called learning "labs"). The idea of impact L-A-B is that a rising tide Lifts All Boats. The best way to get in touch is Facebook, though I think they just got a website up. 

    We always donate to the Bananas boutique:

    Brighter Beginnings, located in Oakland and Richmond, serves kids 0-5 and their families. Takes clothes, gear and toys. The donations go directly to the families, who are most all low income. Great organization, and they will provide a donation receipt, too!

    Playland Not at the Beach, on San Pablo Avenue in El Cerrito, a non-profit, may take some of those items to use as prizes in its carnival arcade. It's a neat place with a unique mission.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Good place to donate kids' toys?

Feb 2013

I am under the impression that few places take kids toys, so when I drop things off at Goodwill or another place like that, I feel like the toys that I leave might just be thrown away. Is there a place that wants kids (and baby) toys? Even better, is there a place that will pick up? Thanks!

Habitot in downtown Berkeley has got a toy lending library for its members. I know they're always keen to receive more toys. Habitot user

The Golden Gate Branch Library in Oakland (San Pablo and 56th street) is taking donations now until April 13. Unfortunately, we can't come to you, but feel free to drop by any time we are open. We will accept kids items, maternity wear and most anything parent and child related for our large Clothing swap in the Spring. Toys would be most welcome. joy

2005 - 2009 Recommendations

Where can I donate toys my kids no longer play with?

Oct 2009

Goodwill is no longer accpeting toy donations. Does anyone have a recommendation of where I can donate used toys that my kids have outgrown? Marin County is preferable, but Berkeley, El Cerrito, and parts of SF would be OK too. I searched the archives, but much of the info seems outdated and I can't find many of the organizations that were mentioned. A tax-deductible organization is preferable as well, but not absolutely required. Thanks! Cleaning out the toy chest

I regularly donate used toys to the Childwatch center at the downtown Berkeley YMCA. If they can't use them, they give them to Headstart and other organizations. Also, sometimes pediatrician's offices and dentist's offices need toys or books for the waiting room. And finally, there are a lot of needy families out there. If I have something nice, I often just list it for free on Craig's List and if someone emails me to say they need it, I leave it outside the house for them. MFB

Bananas on claremont takes toys. a

You might try Bananas (on Claremont Ave) in Oakland. I know they take some toys, unused diapers, & kids clothes and work a lot in low income communities throughout Oakland. You could call them or look them up on-line to check what they will & will not take. Good Luck..... anon

Playland-Not-at-the-Beach is a non-profit Museum of Fun located in El Cerrito, and we would greatly appreciate any donation of new or gently used toys. Toys are used as prizes in our Carnival Games Area. We are also always looking for extra large stuffed animals and toys that are good for boys. Please call before dropping of your donation to insure someone is available to except it, though the Playland office is open seven days a week. All donations are tax deductable and you will receive a letter thanking you with the tax identification information. You can find the address and phone number online at:! People will come to you and gladly take your used toys off your hands. It's a wonderful resource. Christina

Feb 2009

Wondering if anyone has a lead on where I might donate a trunk full of used toys. They are appropriate for infant thru about age 5 (before the holidays we had our boys go through the house and bag up toys they don't play with much or have outgrown). None are broken, some are like new, some have been lovingly used and show wear, but have tons of use left in them. I tried the Bay Area Rescue Mission and Richmond Perinatal Council--both only accept new toys. I am hoping to find an agency or some kind of group that serves children, or a daycare center. Maybe a hospital or doctors office. Thanks for any tips! nikki

I take my children's clothes and toys, in good condition, to Bananas on Claremont in Oakland ( Items are given directly to low income families. Liz O.

Getting rid of new Happy Meal toys

Feb 2008

Although I'm not proud of it, we have accumulated oodles of toys from fast food restaurants (mostly McDonalds, but others too). I only let my kids open one of each kind, and, since we seem to eat at these places in spurts, we end up with duplicates, all of which happen to be new in their packages. I'm desperate to declutter. What do people do with extra fast food toys they don't want/need? Anonymous

I donate these to my kindergartener's class Prize Box. I'm sure if you ask around you'll find a teacher who would love these as little prizes to hand out. Stephanie

Children's Hospital Oakland, at times, provides their patients with ''bedside packs''. You and your children could put a Happy Meal toy in a bag (large ziplock) along with paper, crayons and stickers (or anything else) and donate the packages to the hospital. I know the hospital would be happy to receive these bedside packs as well as it would be fun for your children to organize and donate these items. Just one suggestion. CHO Mom

I believe people can actually sell this stuff on Ebay. Some people find that stuff collectible! Go figure! Lisa in Oakland

Donate to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. I'm sure there are people out there that want that stuff. recycle it!

Teachers at the local elementary school were grateful to take the Happy Meal toys to add to the class ''treasure'' box for rewards or the student store. Anon.

I don't know where you live, but at the El Cerrito recycling center (on Schmidt) they have new plastics recycling bins where they now take all plastic toys. When you drive into the center there are big bins on the left past the Salvation Army donation truck. Just a thought.... anon

I suggest that you ask teachers at your children's school if they could use the toys for incentives. My sister teaches second grade and I know that she is always on the look-out for such things. Her students get a sticker every day that they turn in their ''homework'' or permission slips, etc. and at the end of the week they can choose a ''prize'' for having so many stickers. Marcia

In addition to the very good suggestions about donating to schoolteachers and hospitals who distribute these toys, here are more ideas
1. List these in the BPN Marketplace as giveaways - you will get MANY responses from teachers or others who can put the toys to good use, and they will pick up from you.
2. East Bay Depot for Creative Re-Use - on Telegraph Ave, Oakland. Many teachers and artists use this place as a source for materials.
3. Collect these and other small items in a basket, and at Halloween offer the choice of a toy instead of or in addition to candy (it means waiting 'til October however, and also requires being in a high traffic trick or treat zone). optimom

Agencies that collect toys at Christmas

Dec 2007

My daughter has been receiving an allowance, of which a third goes into a ''giving'' bank... I would love to take her to buy a new toy with it that can be donated to a child or children that don't get many...I thought maybe Children's Hospital or something of the like, but to my surprise I have not had much luck finding any informantion...Any suggestions welcome... anon

There's always the classic Toys for Tots. See their website to search for a drop-off location near you. I know the Coldwell Banker office in Montclair is one drop-off place, if that's in your neck of the woods. JP

our school (lafayette elementary) is doing a toy drive through toys for tots. we are collecting through dec 20. i would do an internet search for toys for tots. on the radio, some stores and fire stations are collecting toys as well. great idea. my son felt very proud of himself from 4 years on, purchasing clothing and toys for families in need during the holidays. our next step will be volunteering in some fashion. great job! give as you can

The Toys for Tots program accepts donations and you can drop off toys in Alameda or San Ramon. The following websites will give you more information. There are probably other drop-off sites too, but I'm not sure where. Nancy

What a great idea- the giving bank. You can drop off unwrapped toys at Berkeley or Contra Costa fire stations (I'm not sure if it's ALL Contra Costa stations but I know at least all El Cerrito, Kensington, Richmond stations are accepting donations). We did this which is especially nice if your kids like an opportunity to visit the fire station as a reward for doing something nice! I think Oakland is also having a Mayor's holiday toy drive but you might want to check with them. anon

2004 & Earlier

December 2004

The last several years I have had fun buying toys at the after thanksgiving sales for great prices, and then donating them to charities.

The last two years, I google searched ''toy donations in berkeley'' and found a volunteer website that puts together a wishlist from local agencies for volunteer time and donations for the holidays. I'd take that list, select ones nearby that seemed appropriate, divide up my toys and have one day where I'd drive around and drop off toys and feel really good about the spirit of giving.

This year, I can't find the website, and I like to do different places each year in order to spread the wealth. Anyone know of any worthy local organizations looking for new unwrapped toys? I'm not interested in doing ''toys for tots''. It's a great cause, but they gets tons of press. Would prefer something a little less publicized. Ones I've done in the past..Circle of Care(Pediatricare), Women's Daytime Dropin Center, Jubilee West, Harbor House, Adopt-a Special Kid and others I can't recall right now.

I'd prefer the Berkeley area, but would drive a little for a worthy cause.
trying to play Santa for a day

Hi, I'm currently serving as the interim director of a therapeutic preschool that serves children 2-6 years old who have experienced trauma/neglect. We are always looking for donations to support our families around the holidays or add a boost of new toys for the children in the classrooms. Feel free to email me if you are interested in learning more about our program. stephmarshburn at

Hello: I am the program coordinator at CHAI, Children's Hospital Autism Intervention. We provide comprehensive, integrated services for young children, up to age 3, on the autism spectrum. We would certainly make use of developmentally based toys for young children. Unfortunately, our budget is limited with regard to materials. There are, of course, many needy programs and charities out there these days. Your generosity toward any program is wonderful to see. Thank you. Michelle

Where to donate toddler's extra toy gifts

April 2007

Due to a large number of relatives, my toddler son receives more gifts of clothing and toys than he can possibly use, particularly the toys. We have very little storage space so rotating the toys is not practical even if we wanted him to own so many things. Consequently I'm looking for a local family shelter or similar organization that does good work and would consistently be able to put these extra things (many of them new) to good use. Anyone have any recommendations? Thanks! too much stuff

Here's an idea for a worthy cause. This is not a shelter, but there is an organization at Children's Hospital Oakland called CHAI that could probably put good use to any extra toddler toys in good shape. It is an early intervention program for kids with Autism and related disorders. They do home visits and have a center, so toys are sometimes spread pretty thin. If you like this idea, you can call CHAI at (510) 428-3792. (Full disclosure: I used to work there, and resigned to be home with my baby.) Nora

If you're looking for local family shelters to donate children's clothes and/or toys to, try going to the Berkeley Public Library's community I & R database--The Berkeley Information Network (The BIN)--of local organizations, services, meeting room, summer day camps, agencies, fairs & festivals, sports clubs, schools, etc. You can search by name, subject, or keyword search. For your search start at the library's website: choose 'Berkeley Information Network (The BIN)' from the library home page or, Services Then just click on each listing which takes you to their BIN listing that gives name of the organization/service/agency, website address as available, contact info, a brief description, list of services, and other info. I hope this helps you find a place to share your child's extra toys and clothes. Patricia

Where to donate Books & magazines for kids

Sept 2006

Thank you so much to everyone wh0 contacted me and donated items to Books for the Barrios - I was overwhelmed by the response! And if I didn't connect with you I'm very sorry, I received so many emails I had trouble keeping track!

If anyone is interested in donating the following items to Books for the Barrios, check out their website for information, they are located in Concord:
* Games and Puzzles * Toys, Stuffed Animals and Tennis Balls * Athletic Equipment * Crayons, Pencils and Scissors * Clean Scrap Paper * Children's Storybooks * National Geographic Magazines * Encyclopedias and Dictionaries * Computers (Pentium III, or IV in working condition only) * Monitors ($20 Donation Fee) * Little Girls Dresses
thanks to all! nancy

Donating toys to worthy cause in Richmond

Oct 2005

For my son's birthday, we are asking for wrapped toys and a can of food to be donated to charity. Now I'm looking for a worthy cause in the City of Richmond (where my son's day care is located) to give these toys/cans of food to. Any ideas? Would like somewhere where they could make a bit of a deal over the donation so that it would encourage a humanitarian spirit in my young son. (Also, so I could take a picture of it to share with all the party goers.)

Hi! I grew up in the Richmond Hills, and we often donated to the Richmond Rescue Mission and helped out on Thanksgiving day down there. It's been awhile, but I know my mother still donates items to them. I believe they are on MacDonald Ave, and can be found on the internet. Eden

Try Richmond Rescue Mission on MacDonald. If you call them, they will set up a time when you can bring donations. They have a family homeless shelter and an after-school tutoring program, among other programs. A good choice for donations. Check out its website.

The Perinatal Council in Richmond accepts donations. They serve needy families, including pregnant teens. They also run an ''adopt a family'' program at the holiday season. If you call ahead and ask them to make a ''big deal'', they should comply. R.K.

Donating nice & sturdy puzzles and toys

March 2005

I've looked in the archives, but not found anything, although I sometimes see notices in marketplace for organizations looking for ongoing donations (I meant to save them...).

Where do people donate kid's stuff? We have toys, puzzles, and books which would be appropriate for anywhere children gather to play or wait for their parents (or to give to kids for personal use). It's nice stuff, and sturdy and not too many pieces (thick floor puzzles, large plastic vehicles, etc). I'd rather give it away, although it would be salable through marketplace or resale shops.

I know about Sports4Kids for sports equipment. Thank you for your advice! anne

I would imagine you'll get many suggestions for terrific charities that need your toys and children's products. One thing we do is donate our sons' toys, books and games to their school classrooms. This way you get to give back a little to the people who give so much to your kids. We recently gave some barely touched and never used toys to Children's Hospital in Oakland. I did this informally through one of my son's doctors. She wrote a really lovely note back that the toys had gone on to foster kids that are seen at the hospital. I told my kids and they were thrilled! (Well, the two-year-old of course didn't understand, but my four-year-old was very pleased!) Ann

A few suggestions:
1. ECAP (in Emeryville, on San Pablo at 35th). They take ANYTHING! They distribute it directly to needy families and individuals.
2. BANANAS (on Claremont near Telegraph). They love getting high quality children's items that they distribute to home day-care facilities (most of which operate on a very low budget) as well as needy famlies.
3. Children's Hospital will accept the books for their Red Book Cart program. Both inpatients and out-patients (in the waiting areas) can read the books while in the hospital, and if they like the book, they are welcome to keep it. R.K.

For the person looking for a place to donate toys and childrens' stuff our school is holding a rummage sale Saturday, May 14 which benefits curricular and other program at our public school. I would be happy to arrange to pick up any toys, or kid's clothing, etc if they can be easily carried in boxes, no large play structures, cribs or car seats. Naomi

I'd like to recommend the Women's Daytime Drop-in Center at 2218 Acton St., Berkeley, 548-2884. It is a wonderful place that offers services for homeless women and their kids. They can come during the day and get showers, meals, counseling, and a supportive, warm place off the streets. They have managed to get some of their clients into homes and jobs. Call them first and see if they can use your kids' stuff. They recently added a kids' room onto the back (the center is just a regular little house next to a city-run '' tot yard''), that is like a playroom/classroom.

For the information of anyone else who would like to donate to help the homeless: I used to take all my old women's clothing to the WDDC. Now they refer clothing donations to the Berkeley Ecumenical Chaplancy for the Homeless (another wonderful service for the homeless in a church at Durant and Elsworth), but they may still directly accept kids' clothing, I don't know.

You'll know that your donations are being well used by people who really need help! Cecelia

What to do with all 3-year-old's toys?

June 2003

What do you do with used toys? I have a 3 year old that can't get into his room because of all the toys he has from us, presents, hand me downs, etc. We don't have anyone to hand down to, is there somewhere or something you give them to? kristi

I am a member of the International MOMS Club Vallejo Chapter. Our community service project this year has been to create the Vallejo Toy and Resource Library to provide caregivers in the area the opportunity to borrow toys and caregiving resources. We are interested in donations of toys for children ages 0 to 5 years, children's books and videos, and books and videos related to childbirth and caregiving. Donations are 100% tax deductible. I would be happy to pick up any toys you wish to donate and leave you with a receipt. Beth

Bananas takes toy donations and will give you a receipt for your taxes. I like to donate to them because they provide a tremendous service for our community. Check out for all they do and contact info. Ilana

YOu can give them away to goodwill, the salvation army, or list them (for free or for sale) on the parents mailing list marketplace newsletter or craigslist. You can also have a garage sale. anon

There are probably dozens of children's charities that would love used toys -- just look in the phone book. Places like Salvation Army and Goodwill definitely sell kids' stuff, if there's a place like that you support. Some other ideas: check with local daycares (including family daycares) or preschools, try Habitot's toy lending library, or perhaps sell the toys at a used-toy consignment store (there's one on College Avenue near the Dreyer's Ice Cream store, but on the other side of the street). Maybe Children's Hospital or local pediatricians' offices could use them to entertain the kids while they wait for appointments. People often leave outdoor toys that are in fairly good condition at Totland or Willard Park (and probably other places as well), where they definitely are well-used. Karen

I'm donating our used toys and clothing to the Alameda County Office of Education for Infants & Toddler's Program. It services all of Alameda County, for children with disabilities. The only thing they cannot accept is stuffed animals. I spoke with Linda at (510) 782-3356. Their on-site nurse evaluates the items and they are brought to the families at the home visits. If any of the items cannot be used by their program, they are given to the Cal Safe Program or the Teen Family Program. If you have alot of items they will come and pick them up.

I called some of the other programs listed on the network archives and many of them either were not taking toys at this time or had discontinued taking toys. Ali

Toy Go Round on Solano in Albany will ''recycle'' them for you. It's a pretty good deal, you bring in your toys in good shape with all the pieces and instructions if you have them and they consign them for you. You have an account number and when you have some credit, you can get some more age appropriate, different, new/used toys. Charities like Bay Area Rescue Mission, Good Will or CARH (Community Assistance For The Retarded And Handicapped) will also take them. Oh yea, Darla's on San Pablo in El Cerrito will take those in good condition for store credit. Recently Purged Of Old Toys

Well, you can either sell them or give them away. If you want to sell them, you could try listing them in the ''Marketplace'' section of this newsletter, holding a garage sale, or selling them to a used-children's-stuff store (there are quite a few in the Oakland/Berkeley area).

If you want to give them away, why not donate them (and get a tax write-off) by finding a children's/homeless family shelter, or just giving them to Goodwill, Salvation Army or St. Vincent de Paul (again all in the Oakland/Berkeley area).

Undoubtedly you will receive MANY replies to your posting.... You can do many things with toys in one of two categories:

1. Making Money:
- Advertise on the Marketplace newsletter to sell them at whatever price you want (the cheaper the faster of course).
- Have a yard sale.
- Sell to some of the used childrens' shops around here (like Toy Go Round, or many of the used clothing shops - they also often sell toys).

2. Not Making Money:
- Donate to shelters.
- Donate to daycare centers/preschools.
- Donate to hospitals.
- Advertise on Marketplace in the free section (sure to go like hotcakes).
- Place posters in your neighborhood childrens' park.
- Call Bananas and ask them, or your firestation and see if they have a toys-for-tots kind of thing. Etc, etc, etc.

Good for you for limiting the chaos in your house! Freyja

I'm sure you'll get lots of ideas. Here are a few:

Donate them to ECAP - they give everything directly to needy families. They are located on San Pablo Ave, at 34th. Other charities do this too, so ask around. Donate some of them (carefully selected) to pre-schools, family homeless shelters, hospital/doctor waiting rooms or places of business that might like ''distractions'' for children of clients (of course, ask first).

If stuff is interesting, but no longer complete, they might take them at the Creative Reuse Depot .

If stuff in in good condition, and you'd like to get some money for them, there's always the re-sale places (Toy-Go-Round on Solano in Albany is great for this). R.K.

If you would like to donate used toys to a needy group I can direct you to Mujeres Unidas y Activas: United and Active Women. They are a peer support counseling and community organizing project for Latina women facing domestic violence, immigration harassment, etc. They provide free child care at all their meetings but have very little in the ways of toys, books, etc. Call me or email me to arrange a donation. We are also looking for bookshelves and kids size chairs/tables. Thanks in advance! Margi

We just did a huge clean up in our house and got rid of tons of toys. Here's where I gave them

-Bay Area Crisis Nursery-
-neighbor down the street
-little kids program at the church
-the daycare provider took some
Goodwill will also take the rest (stuffed animals for example are virtually impossible to get rid of, in my experience). Try checking with the local kindergarten too... They often want sand toys or blocks or the like. myriam

You can donate them to battered women's shelters or some other organization that helps children. If you want different toys or books to replace them there are some great used toy stores in Alameda where you can trade them. Fashion After Passion is on Webster St. and you can trade your toys for toys, kids clothes or maternity clothes. They also have books and a great selection of nursing bras. Any toys they don't take, they donate to a place that low income people can go to get free stuff. Toy Safari has a great selection of toys and books for trade, it's on Park St. Danielle

You can drop children's toys and clothing off at BANANAS, a non-profit child care referral and education center located at Claremont Ave in Oakland, close to the DMV and the 51st St/Telegraph/Claremont intersection. For directions, more info, call 658-7353. Barbara

Regarding a place to donate gently used toys, a program I know of that is always grateful for toy donations used or new, is The Alameda County Office of Education Infant and Toddler Program. The program serves infants and toddlers with disabilities. They have both a center based and home based program. Many of the children and families in their program are very low income. When toys are donated the staff distributes them to families whose children do not have many (or any) toys available to them. If your toys seem appropriate for this group (any are, as long as they are for children in that age range) contact the Burke Development Center at 782-3356. (Nov 1999)

We recently donated a lot of childrens' clothes and toys to Bananas in Oakland. Great organization doing great work. They didn't require the clothes to be cleaned, although we had washed them before storing them away years ago. Timothy

Hi, I work at the Student Parent Project here at Cal, and if you would like to donate toys and books in good condition to us, we'd love to take them off your hands! We are a campus support unit for students who are combining academics (undergrad and grad) and parenting. Among the many things we do for student parents, is to maintain a room located at 250 Cesar Chavez Student Center for parents and their children. It has couches, a changing table, a microwave, a refrigerator, computers (1 ea.--laptop and macintosh) and a play area with toys for the kids. A lot of our toys are missing pieces or are just old! Sometimes, if a little one just can't part with a toy, we let them take it with them, if they promise to love the toy and be good to it! We don't provide child care here, but it is a place where parents can exchange child care or stop by between classes if they have their kids with them. I am certain that there are many wonderful charities and families that need the toys, but give me a call if you're interested in donating to us. Patti 643-5729

I would like to add a few donating places. I will briefly explain to you.
1) I am a member of the Black Staff and Faculty Organization on the UCB campus and we have a Christmas party every year the first weekend in December, (13 years now). We invite over 150 children from the homeless (Centers or homes) and those that are under privilege that are unable to have a Christmas. We provide the kids with entertainment, music, Santa and pictures with Santa, food, punch and pasteries and the end of the party they all go home with a brand new gift. The kids range in ages from 2-12. We have an annual Bowling Party in October as our fund raiser to raise money for the party We would be very much interested in receiving donations of new wrapped or unwrapped toys at anytime.
2) I am a member on the board of Supporting Future Growth Child Development for preschools. We have eight sites thoughout the Oakland area one in Hayward and an infant care center in Oakland near Mills College. Our centers are always interested in getting donations of toys/books for the children.

From: Kris

The Jobs Consortium accepts toy donations in Oakland and Berkeley (510-251-6241). They are a non profit which provides employment services (including resume writing, literacy training, addiction counseling, etc.) to the homeless and families on welfare. Their clients would love toys for their kids, especially at

From: Maisha

To the parent who wanted suggestions as to where they can donate used toys... My daughter's daycare, Laney Children Center , in Oakland is in desparate need of toys, clothing, anything that can be spared. In fact we (the Parents' Assoc.) are racking out brains with how to raise funds to be able to buy at least one toy for each chi ld for Chistmas. So if you would please call Linda Mitchell (Childcare Director) at (510) 464-3574 and talk with her about how you could help, she and I would be most appreciative. The Childcare Center is located on Laney campus at 2000 Fallon Street.

Downtown Berkeley YMCA Childwatch The Downtown Berkeley Childwatch Center is always interested in receiving donations of good used toys. Please call Childwatch Director Eden O'Brien-Brenner at 848-9622 ext. 3038 to find out if the toys you wish to donate are appropriate for the center.


Toys for Tots Donate new unwrapped toys or money. You may wish to involve your children in buying some new toys to give to others. See for donation locations. (Natasha, Dec 1998)