Everyone adores teddy bears, plush dolls, and stuffed animals, which are incredible for cuddling on cold days or providing comfort on bad ones. Unfortunately, these beloved toys have a habit of becoming like the troublesome tribbles from Star Trek, multiplying until your house is completely cluttered with them. What do you do when a collection of stuffed animals becomes overwhelming, and your house starts looking like it should be featured on the TV show Hoarders? Make saying goodbye easier by donating your stuffed animals to charity.

Between the cuteness factor, sentimental attachment, and environmental concerns, no one wants to just toss these toys in the garbage. Yet, selling them at mom-to-mom exchanges, garage sales, or on eBay can be a real chore. Often times people will already be inundated themselves with these plush friends, or don’t want to pay money to buy them secondhand. Donating these toys to charity can be a great way to clear out a stuffed animal infestation from your household, and donating benefits a charitable cause, gives the toys a new life so they don’t end up in a landfill, and can provide your family with a tax deduction. Sounds like a win-win-win situation to me!


While most toy drives like Toys for Tots require new, unopened items when it comes to donations, there are numerous charity-run thrift shops that would gladly take your family’s used stuffed animals off your hands. For example, The Salvation Army of Southeast Michigan will accept donations of stuffed animals and plush toys that are in good condition to be sold at one of its 36 thrift stores. Proceeds from these stores provide the entire operating budget for The Salvation Army’s metro Detroit adult rehabilitation center, a six-month residential treatment program for people striving to overcome alcohol and drug addiction.

“By donating to The Salvation Army thrift stores, you are not only helping the men and women benefiting from the adult rehabilitation center—you’re also helping local families who are in need of affordable options when it comes to purchasing things such as clothing, home goods, and toys,” says Jacqulynn Idzior, director of operations for The Salvation Army Southeast Michigan Adult Rehabilitation Center. “If your child has more toys than they can play with—or you can store—consider donating them at one of our local thrift stores. Your donations can help brighten a child’s day and lighten the load for parents going through a hard time.”

If there isn’t a local charitable thrift shop that will accept donations of stuffed animals and other plush toys, check to see if there is a domestic violence or homeless shelter in your area that may appreciate you contributing items for the children staying there. There are also non-profit groups like S.A.F.E. (Stuffed Animals for Emergencies) that collect stuffed animals, clean them up, and provide them to public service officers such as police officers, fire fighters, and social workers who deal with children in emotional or traumatic situations. The We Care Bears Project is another group working to make use of unwanted teddy bears by organizing kids around the U.S. to hold donation drives to provide emergency first responders with plush toys that can be given to children facing unbearable situations.


It can be hard for children—and adults—to let go of a stuffed animal that is beloved, but making sure it is going to a new home where it will be appreciated can take away some of the sting. If you have plush toys piling up around your house please consider donating them to charity. There are plenty of needy children and charitable efforts out there who will appreciate and benefit from your donation.