How to Donate Stuffed Animals

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There comes a time when you can no longer keep the pile of stuffed animals in your child’s room. It may be because they have more sewn-on patches than original fabric, or it may be that your child has simply grown apart from the toys. 

Either way, you need to find a way to get rid of the stuffed animals, but how do you do that? 

Our family had collected so many over the years, and it finally came to the point that I had to get rid of at least half of them. After all my research, I’ve come up with some helpful tips on how to donate stuffed animals to a better home. 

Ways to donate stuffed animals:

  • Giving them to someone who wants them 
  • Donate them to charity thrift shops 
  • Give them to animal shelters 
  • Donate to police or fire departments 
  • Donate to hospitals 
  • Donate via SAFE or other organizations 

When to Donate Stuffed Animals

So you’ve decided that you need to unload some of the toys that your child has accumulated over the years. But how do you choose which ones to give up and which ones to keep?

stuffed animal bunny

Three Months or More

If your child hasn’t played with the stuffed animal in over three months or hasn’t even looked at it, it’s time to get rid of it. Realistically, they probably don’t even realize that they still have it, so they won’t even know that it’s missing. 

A good trick is to watch them over a week to see which animals they favor more than others. If you see that they haven’t even touched one, get rid of it. Another child will get so much joy out of it, and you can declutter.

Too Damaged to Fix 

Sometimes your child may have loved this stuffed animal so much that it’s damaged and no longer resembles the cute fluffy bunny that it used to be. In this case, the best scenario is to get rid of the toy and donate it to someone who is able to upcycle it into something. 

When Not to Donate Stuffed Animals

If your child desperately clings to a tattered teddy, do not get rid of it to start with. They have already formed an emotional attachment to this toy, and it may cause more harm than good to part with it. They may cause an argument and refuse to let it go.

Instead, try to gently ease the toy away from them over time. Right now, though, leave it—there will be plenty more toys that your child has that you can donate. 

If it’s their first teddy that they ever had or their comforter, don’t even bother trying to get rid of it. Remember what you were like with your teddy? I had mine with me in the same room up until my twenties. That teddy may stay with them for the rest of their life.

How to Get Your Child to Donate Their Stuffed Animals

It’s always hard when your child has to get rid of some of their toys. They may throw a temper tantrum or scream and shout. One of the main things to remember is to give them control over the whole situation and let them choose what they want to keep or not. 

Gather all of their stuffed toys into one room and ask them to select which ones they would like to keep and which ones they would like to give away. It not only lets them decide, but it makes them included in it all rather than you choosing. 

If they refuse to choose or are making things difficult, give them a number of toys that they need to get rid of. Tell them that they have to choose 10 toys (or less) to give away to a child who needs them more. 

If I’m giving them to the hospitals or police departments, I like to explain to my children that a child who needs some love right now needs a teddy to cuddle and doesn’t have one. They will be much more willing to pick a few out to give away when they actually understand where their toys are going.

child with stuffed animal bear

Who to Donate Stuffed Animals to 

Depending on where you live, there are a variety of ways you can donate your child’s stuffed animals. These include: 

Giving Them to Someone Who Wants Them 

This is one of the easiest ways to be able to donate your child’s stuffed animals. Ask friends, neighbors, and anyone in the local area if they are interested in any of the toys you’re getting rid of. Most of the time, at least one of their answers will be yes. 

I found that advertising on websites such as Facebook and Craigslist worked really well to get rid of the oldest stuffed animals that my son no longer used. Take a photo of whatever stuffed animal you no longer need and post it to a page with a short description.

Donate to Charity Thrift Stores 

Some thrift shops like Goodwill will happily accept donations of stuffed toys as long as they meet the requirements and are in fair condition. These are a great place to donate the toys as you know they will be going to someone who wants them while also making some money for charity. 

Bear in mind that not all charity shops accept stuffed animals, so ask beforehand in your local ones if it’s okay to take them there. 

Give Them to Animal Shelters

Sometimes you may have stuffed animals with stains on or that you will not be able to donate to another child. In these cases, you can take them to your local animal shelter for all the cats and dogs that need some love. Just like children, pets need companions for comfort too.

Check to see whether your local shelter has stuffed animals on their wish list as not every shelter will. If they do, make sure that they are suitable for the animals there. 

You could even replace your child’s old stuffed kitty toy for a real kitty! 

Donate to Police or Fire Departments 

On a daily basis, police and firefighters meet children who have had traumatic experiences that need something to help them through these troubling times. You can donate old toys to these departments to help these children find comfort in dark times. 

When donating to any of these places, make sure that you state the purpose of these toys and what you wish them to be used for. 

Donate to Hospitals 

Much like with our local services, hospitals are always busy with children who need that little bit of love that people may not be able to give them. 

Take your child with you when you donate them to show how much joy they will see on the other child’s face. I guarantee that they will go home and go through their toys to find more that they want to donate. 

Donate via SAFE or Other Organizations

Stuffed Animals For Emergencies (SAFE) is a non-profit organization that collects donated stuffed animals as well as a variety of other things to people who may need them. This can be if they have to speak about a trying time in their life in front of the court or if they are living in disaster areas that need immediate clothes, food, and help. 

SAFE has instructions on how to clean stuffed animals, which you can use for any of these methods before donating them.

Bye Bye Stuffed Animals

When you and your child have decided on which animals to give away and where, place them in a bag and head out to donate those stuffed animals. Make sure you check wherever you are donating that it will be accepted. 

Always remember that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!

Howard is a co-founder of Smart Parent Advice. When he isn't spending time with his wife, Kristin, or his two children, he can often be found running around on the tennis court.