Gently used generosity

There are a lot of places in the Central Okanagan where you can donate your second-hand stuff, and we all seem to have a lot of it to get rid of.

The good news is that there are a lot of ways to donate these goods, which will free up your space, and help someone else. Some of these ways will fit better than others for any individual, so it is a great idea to explore your giving options.

One of the things to think about is whether you are comfortable with your items being sold. If you donate to a thrift store, this is the case, and the pricing may vary a lot between stores. People in crisis (for example, those who are staying in a shelter) may also be allowed to shop for free at some stores to get essentials like clothing.

If you are fine with your items being sold (thrift store proceeds almost always benefit charity programs and services, so this revenue is put to great use), then you need to find a store. You can check the yellow pages in the phone book, but I also highly recommend searching the Community Information and Volunteer Centre at Kelowna Community Resources - visit and follow the links. Enter “thrift store” as your search criteria, and you’ll get the whole list.

Some of the things that may affect your decision to give to a particular charity or store include whether you support that particular cause, the option to have the donation picked up (a few organizations can do this), whether you agree with the pricing in a thrift store or how the donations will be used, or whether the donation will result in a tax receipt.

On the last point, it is rare in Canada to receive a tax receipt for second-hand goods. It will partly depend on the policies of the organization, but it mostly comes down to what the item is, how fairly the value can be assessed and documented, how much the charity needs the item and is willing to negotiate, and how the item will be used within the organization.

Whether or not the charity can pick up your item(s) is another issue. A few charities that have trucks and staff or volunteers for this purpose include Big Brothers and Sisters of the Central Okanagan (who have a partnership with Value Village), SHARE Society, Kelowna's Gospel Mission, and the Salvation Army (large furniture).

Keep in mind that you may need to arrange a pickup well in advance, when the organization will have a vehicle in your neighborhood.

If you definitely do not want your items to be sold, then you will need to make phone calls to charities, in order to find out if they have a client who can use them. When looking for charities, again the best place to start is, and you can also phone 250-763-8008 and speak with the very knowledgeable staff.

A few things to keep in mind when phoning a charity (whether they have a thrift store or not):

Make sure you are speaking with the right person. The person who answers the phone may need to refer you to someone who specifically handles donation questions. You may also have to wait for your call to be returned, or for them to check whether anyone can use your item(s).

They may not be able to use your item(s). The charity may already have a surplus of that type of item, or they may not have a client who can use it, or they may not be able to store it.

Change starts when people give to help those in need. To find out how you can be part of change, visit

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About the Author

The mission of United Way is to improve lives and build community by engaging individuals and mobilizing collective action.

We call this our Community Impact Mission. Community impact is about achieving meaningful, long-term improvements to the quality of life in Canadian communities, by addressing not just the symptoms of problems but also getting at the root causes. It’s about making fundamental changes to community conditions.

United Way is achieving this mission by moving people from poverty to possibility, promoting healthy people and strong communities, and supporting all that kids can be.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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