The holiday season is the time of year when people feel jolly and generous. Many people dig deep into their pockets to give to charities during the last month or so of the year. Some items like warm coats, fuzzy hats, and long scarves count among the usual charity gifts. But what if you have items that you’re not so sure a charity would take? The answer to that question could come as a surprise to you. Here are four things that charities will take that you may not expect.


Before You Get Started…

If you want to donate unusual items to charity, you’ll want to expand your idea of charity. While you can and should donate to second-hand stores, it’s also a good idea to look at other organizations that need donations as well. Charity auctions and food banks accept all kinds of donations that a second-hand store might not. Keep this in mind as you read through the list.


1. Food Bank Donations

While the Feeding America website suggests that you give money and not goods to food banks, it is possible to donate food if you know what you’re doing.


If you do donate to a food bank, be sure to look for the following items:

Canned foods

Boxed mixes

Packages of pasta

Frozen foods

Other non-perishable items


One final thought is to make sure that you separate personal items like toilet paper and mouth wash from the other items in your donation.


2. Donate Your Expertise

Many businesses with choose to donate their time and expertise to members of the community who are studying and trying to get into the business. It’s one thing to study business formally. It’s another thing to have a mentor who can show a young professional the ropes. If you hear about a charity auction in your area, and you have a skill set that’s not easily acquired, think about offering a coupon book with a series of one-on-one lunches for the purposes of mentoring someone.


3. Cars and Other Automobiles

Bet you didn’t know that the old Ford in your driveway that you affectionately refer to as “the old clunker” can be a donation. It can be, and a very useful one at that. Many organizations exist, like Action Donation Services, which allow you to donate your car to a worthy local organization.


That being the case, if you want to donate your car, think about donating to a charity that will give it to a worthy person. Otherwise, you can donate your car to a second-hand or thrift store if it’s that organization and not an individual that you wish to benefit this holiday season.


4. Donating Blood

Of all the things you’d think about donating, blood and plasma may not be the first things that come to mind. However, this donation can mean life for someone else. Many organizations like the Red Cross do blood drives periodically throughout the year. Sometimes these coincide with an unexpected disaster, but often times they are held during the holidays to remind people to give. This donation would be especially welcome if you have an unusual blood type that’s hard to find.


Last Thoughts

Donating to a worthy cause is one of the things that makes the holidays feel so special. While items like clothing or money are always appreciated, these aren’t the only things that people need to make it through the holidays. Whether you’re donating your time or your car or something else, these unusual donations can help someone near you turn a corner in life this coming holiday season.