Spring Cleaning: Where to Donate or Recycle Your Kid Clutter

Spring Cleaning: Where to Donate or Recycle Your Kid Clutter

We’ve been trying to do some spring cleaning and are trying to purge a few things around the house.  It’s amazing how much and how fast kids can collect things!  Of course, it’s also not easy for them to part with their stuff.  Once we’ve gotten them talked into getting rid of a few things, we typically have a garage sale and haul stuff off to a local clothing closet, charity or thrift store.

But, what do you do with those hard-to-give-away items? Perhaps they are expensive — think prom dresses and sports gear — or sentimental things like books and stuffed animals – or are past their prime like old shoes or electronics.  The following options give you the satisfaction of knowing you made a responsible, clutter-clearing choice that happens to do something good for someone else or the Earth by recycling.

Arts, Crafts & School Supplies

Crazy Crayons

This organization collects broken, worn or loose crayons, then melts them down and turns them into new Eco Star crayons or multicolored crayons shaped like worms. You don’t have to do anything to the crayons! Just collect (any amount), box, and ship them as they are.


Through their ColorCycle program, Crayola collects markers of all kinds and turns them into clean liquid fuel for vehicles. The company pays for shipping via FedEx, but your local school has to set up the collection system.  To find a school in Des Moines that participates in the program, enter your zip code on their website.

Books, DVDs & CDs

Des Moines Public Library

The Des Moines Public Library welcomes your donated books, audio books, DVDs, CDs, and magazines. These items will be sold in library Book Sales and all funds go back to the libraries to enhance programs and services.

Planned Parenthood Book Sale

Donate books and other items at the Jacqueline N. Blank Book Drop, 123 Clark Street in Des Moines. They accept books, magazines (less than 2 years old), tapes, records, CDs, DVDs, games and puzzles.

Baby Gear

HCI Giving Tree

The HCI Giving Tree thrift store’s proceeds support programs and services which enhance the quality of life for the organization’s hospice patients and their families.  The thrift store accepts donations of baby, infant, and kids clothing and toys, as well as, baby gates, swings, walkers and car seats.


Salvation Army

The organization provides community programs, homeless services, rehabilitation, disaster relief, and other assistance to those in need.  They collect donations for their thrift stores and accept electronics if they’re still in working condition. They also make it easy to donate, visit the website for a donation center near you, or call 1-800-SA-TRUCK for free pick up.

Best Buy

The retailer takes back most electronics free of charge at every Best Buy store in the country. (They now charge a fee for TVs and computer monitors). For small electronics they have a donation bin located in the stores and for larger electronics they offer events, and online recycling options.

Musical Instruments

Easter Seals Iowa

Donations are needed to support Easter Seals Iowa and Camp Sunnyside. You can help by donating items to Camp Sunnyside at 401 NE 66th Avenue in Des Moines.  Musical Instruments are on their current list of donations needed.

Prom Dresses

Project Fresh Start

Administered by Ankeny Community Education, one of Project Fresh Start’s goals is to make sure no area student misses their high school prom because they lack the funds to purchase a dress. The organization accepts clean, slightly used prom dresses throughout the school year.

Urbandale Clothing Closet

The Clothing Closet is a student-run, non-profit business that accepts clothing donations in order to provide clothing free of charge to those in need. They also accept gently used, clean prom dresses.  Donations can be dropped off at the Urbandale High School office Monday through Friday between 9:00 am to 2:00 pm.


Nike Reuse a Shoe

If you have old athletic shoes that are worn out, the Nike-Reuse-A-Shoe program will recycle them into running tracks and playgrounds. The Nike Factory Store in West Des Moines is a drop-off location for the program.  They have a collection bin just inside the store.

Soles 4 Souls

The organization has distributed more than 30 million pairs of shoes since it was founded after Hurricane Katrina. Donate shoes by purchasing a mailing label on the website or drop-off at Fitness by Design, one of their local collection sites.  Collection bins are located just inside the fitness studio’s lobby at two locations in Des Moines and West Des Moines. Please call (515) 770-3844 to schedule a drop-off time.

Stuffed Animals & Toys

Share A Toy

Used toys and stuffed animals are collected, cleaned and repaired and given away to needy kids at Christmas in Nodaway, IA. This amazing program is a labor of love by Vince and Judy Else.  Last year they gave away over 8,000 toys and they also started a Christmas in July event where they gave away outdoor toys, like bikes, trikes and scooters.  To donate items contact Vince Else at (712) 785-3311 to schedule a drop-off.

Stuffed Animals for Emergencies

They put gently used stuffed animals into the hands of children and service members who need a little comfort. The organization’s website lists chapters in many parts of the country, and it also offers advice for how to clean stuffed animals in preparation for donation.

Sports Equipment

Des Moines Street Collective

The Collective accepts donations of bikes and old or unused bike parts and tools.  Bikes are fixed up in their Maintenance Classes and then are used in a number of ways, including their Earn-A-Bike program, or are sold in their Bike Shop, which is located at 506 East Sixth Street in Des Moines.

Play It Forward

Slightly used sports equipment is collected at businesses in Ankeny (typically in March) and then donated to families in need. Bats, balls, gloves, racquets, cleats, shoes, helmets, etc. are typically accepted. Items must be in good, usable condition. Watch the City of Ankeny Parks & Recreation Program Guide for collection and giveaway event dates.



Let us know where you donate or recycle all of your kid clutter!

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