Donating clothing
September 5, 2005 8:15 AM   Subscribe

I have 8 boxes of clothes that I'd like to donate to Hurricane Katrina evacueees. What's the best way to do so?

I've heard that plus-sized clothes are badly needed, and I have 8 boxes of plus-sized women's clothes that are too big for me now. I've read about some organizations in Houston that are collecting clothing and have specfically asked for plus-sized clothes, but I'm not sure of the best way to ship the clothes to them. I'm in the DC area, and have tried calling a couple of local organizations that are planning on sending stuff to Houston, but none of them are accepting clothes. I understand that Red Cross does not accept donations of clothing. Any suggestions?

I had originally intended to donate them to a local Salvation Army, but since I read that plus-size women in the Astrodome are wearing garbage bags, I was really hoping to get them directly to evacuees.
posted by amarynth to Grab Bag (11 answers total)
A couple ideas (I'm doing the same thing)

1. Is your state hosting evacuees? If so, you can call your state rep's office and ask about this. They can tell you what agencies will be providing for them.

2. I've seen people posting on Craiglist looking for truckers to volunteer and donate the transportation. You could try that.

3. Katrina relief in Houston. Maybe some ideas there.
posted by Miko at 8:49 AM on September 5, 2005

Call the local office of the Red Cross and ask there.
posted by winston at 9:24 AM on September 5, 2005

Here are the ones I'm aware of.
  • Check CoffeeCup Software, Inc. to ship specific goods from a posted list.
  • Check World Care's warehouse in Tucson, Arizona to ship specific goods from a posted list.
  • Back on Track Care Packs Hurricane Katrina refugees are without and in need of our help. Perhaps you have already donated $$$ or offered your services in some way. However, many of us are unable to physically help. Since the victims must be able to carry their belongings the idea of providing a backpack stuffed with necessities is my core goal. As a mother of four, I am particularly aware of the needs of families. I am asking everyone who reads this to purchase a backpack (or donate a gently used one). Please fill this pack with any of the items on the FEMA approved list (PDF). Join the Back on Track Care Packs Yahoo Group or email for more info. --Kia Grant
  • Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana is a food bank, but they are accepting non-food donations for the Katrina evacuees and are coordinating donations for the entire region. If you do send food, it should be ready-to-eat, and not home-made. Non-food items that they are accepting include: clothes, shoes, personal toiletries (toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, soap, shaving supplies, feminine hygiene products), baby bottles, etc. Please send packages to: Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana 2307 Texas Avenue Shreveport, LA 71103.
  • There are 45,000 New Orleans refugees staying at the River Center for 2-3 months. They are asking for direct donations. The PR person noted there are many many babies and children. She said they need EVERYTHING! She specifically mentioned:
    • Clothes
    • Blankets
    • Formula
    • Water
    • Diapers
    • Non-perishable food
    • Sheets
    • Pillows
    • Sleeping Bags
    Please ship packages to:
    The Baton Rouge River Center
    275 South River Road
    Baton Rouge, LA, 70802
    Phone- 225-389-3030
  • The Baton Rouge Saint Vincent DePaul Society is accepting donations for displaced families who are in the Baton Rouge Area. Label the boxes with the size of clothing and if it is for a boy or girl, man or woman. She said to please use smaller boxes if you do not have many
    like sized items of the same size. Larger boxes are absolutely acceptable if they for example are womens size 8 and not mixed with other sized clothes. Or to please place them within a plastic bag with the same sizes in them labeled if using a big box.

    Things on their much needed list as of today are:
    • Infant Clothing/layettes
    • Diapers
    • Formula
    • Bottles
    • Baby wipes
    • Childrens Clothing
    • Childrens Shoes
    • Socks
    • Undergarmets
    • Washcloths
    • Towels
    • Toiletries
    • Blankets
    • Childrens Sleeping Bags
    • Bookbags
    • Pillows
    • First Aid Items
    • Childrens Tylenol
    • Baseball Caps to limit sun exposure
    • Non Aeresol deoderant
    • Non Aeresol Bug Repellant
    • Coloring Books
    • Crayons
    Please ship packages to:
    St Vincent DePaul Society
    St Vincent DePaul Place
    Baton Rouge LA 70802
I'm sure there are more, these are just the ones I'm aware of...
posted by susanbeeswax at 9:32 AM on September 5, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone.

The DC Armory is hosting 400 evacuees, but the collection center isn't accepting any more clothing.

I should have mentioned that I had already tried calling the local Red Cross, who referred me to their main number which said that they did not accept material donations.

susanbeeswax, the information in your post about labelling the boxes with sizes is the kind of information I was looking for regarding the best way to ship the clothes. That gives me a better idea of what kind of questions to ask the organization before I send the boxes off.

Does anyone have any advice about which company to go with to ship stuff, given that there are eight 13" x 17" x 13" boxes and that they are pretty heavy? Think anyone will give me a break on shipping costs, since it's for a good cause?
posted by amarynth at 11:12 AM on September 5, 2005

At one point I saw a link for a group that was simply collecting money to create backpacks with school supplies for kids. Any ideas who that was? i.e. you didn't create the pack, then ship it, you simple donated money to a group of people that was organizing this. I'd love to find that again.
posted by fionab at 11:20 AM on September 5, 2005

FedEx ground is a pretty cheap way to ship heavy items--I found it a better deal than USPS parcel post and book rate.
posted by amber_dale at 11:45 AM on September 5, 2005

Does anyone have any advice about which company to go with to ship stuff, given that there are eight 13" x 17" x 13" boxes and that they are pretty heavy? Think anyone will give me a break on shipping costs, since it's for a good cause?

Seriously, checking in Craigslist is worth a try. You may be able to connect up with a free shipper, or you may be able to send via groups of independent volunteers.
posted by Miko at 1:36 PM on September 5, 2005
posted by lomaran at 4:18 PM on September 5, 2005

You might consider donating your clothes to a local place then using the money you spend on shipping to make a cash donation. From the DHS: "Cash donations also allow agencies to avoid the labor-intensive need to store, sort, pack and distribute donated goods. "
posted by teddymac at 4:23 PM on September 5, 2005

Response by poster: I did consider that, teddymac, and I have given money to several organizations, but since I've seen more than a few agencies in Houston and Baton Rouge requesting plus-sized clothing, I would really like to send it there.

From lomaran's link:


I just received an email from a group that has been to the Shelter. The big women are having to wear trashbags. They observed this with their own eyes.

posted by amarynth at 5:06 PM on September 5, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks to everyone who replied. I ended up sending them to Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana via FedEx Ground. They ranged in weight from a little over 12 to a little over 17 lbs, and it cost between $7.50 and $10 each to ship them. The guys at FedEx said that they expected corporate to start giving discounts on shipments to relief organizations by the end of the week, if they didn't start shipping them for free.
posted by amarynth at 3:35 PM on September 6, 2005

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