Once you’re a mom, you’re suddenly connected to other mothers in a way that is hard to describe. When you know the struggle of sleepless nights and constantly thinking about your baby, you understand the need to support other women who are in difficult situations, including those at your local women’s shelter.
One way to help is to donate clothes to a women’s shelter. Whether you have clothes for the mamas or are able to donate baby clothes items to women’s shelter, your support can go a long way. Donating other baby items like wipes or household items can also help women who are experiencing homelessness or trying to get on their feet again through transitional housing.
Although it’s not your motivation for donating to your women’s shelter, giving also comes with financial perks: donations are often tax deductible. Sometimes, it’s easier to donate your used baby items and take the tax deduction than it is to sell them on marketplaces or thrift stores. Plus, you get to feel great about helping another mama in need.
You can always reach out to your local women’s shelter to see what items they need most. In the meantime, here’s a starting point: a list of the women’s shelter donations that are most in demand.
What to Donate to Women’s Shelters:
- Maternity bras and underwear: If you were recently pregnant, you remember how frustrating it was to be wearing uncomfortable bras and underwear with your ever-expanding breasts and belly. However, for moms-to-be with limited means, spending on clothes they’ll only wear for a few months can seem wasteful. Help a mama near you be more comfortable by donating new or gently-used maternity and nursing bras and underwear.
- New diapers and cloth diapers: Buying diapers is one of the major expenses of having a baby and it has a huge impact on baby’s health. Moms who can’t afford diapers might be forced to leave a baby in a diaper for too long, which can contribute to diaper rash. Donating diapers to your local women’s shelter will have a real impact on moms and babies near you. Donations of opened or unopened packs of diapers or clean cloth diapers are always needed. And don’t forget the big kids in need as well—larger-sized pull-ups and overnight diapers are crucial items too.
- New wipes: Like diapers, wipes are a constant expense for new moms. Dropping off packs of disposable wipes is always helpful.
- Toys, stuffed animals, and books: Oftentimes, the residents of women’s shelters have had to leave dangerous or abusive situations in a hurry. That can mean that non-essentials, like kids toys, stuffed animals, and books are left behind. Donating cleaned and gently-used toys and books can bring comfort to babies and young kids whose lives are turned upside down.
- Linens: Have you ever noticed how expensive bedding is? It’s essential, but can be out- of-reach for women and families who are entering transitional housing. Check with your local shelter, but oftentimes, cleaned sheets and blankets are in need.
- Socks: How comforting is a pair of fresh new socks? Sometimes when life is in turmoil, little comforts can make a big difference. In fact, socks are among the most requested items from people experiencing homelessness. Next time you’re out shopping, spending a few dollars on socks to donate to women in need is a simple way to make a difference.
- Baby clothes: Many mamas have tons of baby clothes that are sitting around causing stress because dealing with piles of clothes can be so overwhelming. Keep your favorite outfits as family heirlooms, and pass the rest of the clothes onto a mother and baby who they’ll make a big difference for. Be sure to thoroughly wash them before passing them along!
- Supplies for mom: While it’s great to make sure babies have what they need, it’s also important to make sure mamas have the essentials, and the non-essentials that can help them feel a bit better. Donations of pads and tampons, toiletry items and makeup can help a mama experience homelessness feel a bit more like herself. If you have unopened containers of postpartum essentials like Tucks pads or mesh undies, pass them along.
- Gift cards. If you have some extra gift cards laying around, or just need a simple way to help, women’s shelters always welcome gift cards, especially for local stores and food.
- Feeding supplies Although there are programs to help moms in need pay for formula, having extra on hand provides important peace-of-mind. If you have unopened cans of formula, donate them to the local women’s shelter. This is a great use for all those sample products that you’re sent, even if you plan to breastfeed. Rather than letting them collect dust, pass them on to someone who can use them before the expiration date. The same goes for other feeding supplies, like bottles—if you’re a bottle-feeding mom, you may have gone through several different types of bottles before you found “the one,” so you can help by donating other brands to a shelter.
A quick note: while it may be tempting to donate some of your bigger baby items, like strollers and bouncers and cribs, many shelters are dealing with limited space and may not have the capacity for big donations (not to mention, the safety implications), so call for specific needs your shelter may have before donating any large items.
And overall, just remember that motherhood connects us all, so any way you can help will make a difference. Motherhood is vulnerable at the best of times, but moms living in women’s shelters face even more stress than the average new mom.
Donating baby items or women’s clothing that you no longer need is a great way to support these moms in your community, while also getting a tax write-off for yourself.