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Declutter, give back in the new year

Alicia Colombo

By Mary Anna Rodabaugh

After the holidays, our homes tend to get cluttered with boxes of decorations and gifts. But if you’ve accumulated more things than your closets and living areas can reasonably store, it may be time to consider purging. Many of these extra gently used, unwanted items can be donated to help people in need.

How to declutter
It can be overwhelming to sift through your possessions, especially if you’ve collected a lot throughout the years. “The top decluttering tip we provide is to take it one room at a time,” says Juli Lundberg, director of corporate communications at Goodwill of Southern N.J. and Philadelphia. “We always tell people to ‘donate to Goodwill what you would give to a friend.’”

You can start by choosing one room in your home, then sorting your belongings into three piles: trash, donate and keep. Next, find a specific location within your home for each item that you are keeping. If this task feels overwhelming, you can set a timer for 15 minutes and work on just one area until it goes off.

There are some items that donation centers will not accept. Avoid donating broken items; large appliances; baby items; soiled or torn clothing; construction materials; cosmetics; fragrances; personal care products; used mattresses; electronics, such as cell phones or pagers; and food. Acceptable donations vary by charitable organization, as several organizations need gender-specific items.

There are many donation-based, thrift organizations in the Greater Philadelphia area that could benefit from your decluttering efforts.

The sale of your gently used donated items at Goodwill supports job training programs and career services that help people with disabilities and disadvantages find a path to work, which transforms lives by providing individuals with stronger career opportunities and income potential.

There are two Goodwill stores and donation centers in Philadelphia: Whitman Plaza/South Philadelphia, located at 330 W. Oregon Ave., (info: 215-463-5054); and Parkside Store & Donation Center, located at 5050 Parkside Ave., (info: 215-879-1570). Visit for more information.

The Philadelphia Furniture Bank (PFB) furnishes more than 1,400 homes annually for Philadelphians exiting homelessness. The PFB accepts unbroken and unsoiled furniture. Donations that are picked up from your home cannot be located on the third floor or higher without an elevator. Items should be clean and odor-free. To complete the donation form, visit or call 215-390-1500 for more information.

The Salvation Army Family Store and Donation Center, located at 6427 Torresdale Ave., accepts many donated items, including some appliances, clothing and furniture. The Donation Center is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Visit to schedule a pick-up or call 1-800-728-7825 for more information.

When you donate to Bargain Thrift Center, located at 5261 Germantown Ave., you are supporting the Marlyn R. Fein Chapter of Fox Chase Cancer Center. Just drop off your donations in the big red bin inside the store. Bargain Thrift Center accepts clothing and shoes, accessories, household linens, toys, books, and housewares. It does not accept furniture and mattresses, electronics or appliances, records, VHS tapes, or cassettes. For more information: 215-849-3225 or

Circle Thrift, located at 2231 Frankford Ave., accepts donations of clothing, shoes, books, media, electronics, kitchen items, home goods, décor, and toys. Circle Thrift is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The donation door is under a blue awning with a sign. For more information, call 215-423-1222 or visit
Project HOME, located at 1523 Fairmount Ave., empowers people recovering from chronic homelessness with employment and job training opportunities. The ProjectHOMEspun resale boutique accepts donations of new and gently used men’s and women’s clothing, shoes and accessories, and books. For information, call 215-232-6322.

Recycle your electronics
In 2013, the City of Philadelphia made it illegal to trash certain electronic items on the curb. Since many charitable organizations and thrift stores do not accept donations of electronics, these items must be responsibly recycled.

PAR-Recycle Works, located at 2024 W. Hunting Park Ave. in Nicetown, is a nonprofit electronics recycler that provides transitional employment to people who have been recently incarcerated. The company accepts electronic items (“e-waste”), including computers, televisions, printers and cell phones for recycling. Items can be dropped off at PAR’s Nicetown facility (weekdays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) or at recycling events held throughout the city. Before donating computerized devices, all personal information must be deleted by restoring the device to its factory settings. For more information or to schedule an e-waste pickup, call 267-335-5455 or visit

Start the new year with a clear space by decluttering your home and also helping people in need.

Mary Anna Rodabaugh is a writer, editor and writing coach.

Categories: Milestones eNews


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