How to donate shoes so that they'll be given away rather than sold?
May 17, 2015 12:14 PM   Subscribe

I have managed to accumulate (over time and several bad buying decisions) three pairs of quality-make men's shoes of different types, all in nearly-new condition, that I don't want or can't wear, and I'd like them to go to someone who could really use them. The thing they have in common is each has a non-obvious flaw that would cause buyer's regret in anyone who actually paid money for them, so Goodwill is out.

There is nothing seriously wrong with any of them and they'd great shoes for someone who badly needs something decent on their feet. But a thrift store would probably price them at their apparent value, and inadvertently snooker someone who could ill-afford that.

Is there a charity that gives clothes to needy people rather than selling them in thrift shops? I'm in the Portland, OR area if that helps.

Aside: I've been told that hospitals keep a kind of bank for clothes for ER patients who have nothing wearable at discharge; these tend to be fairly needy types without much of a support system, so failing any other suggestions I'll go with that.
posted by George_Spiggott to Society & Culture (14 answers total)
I don't have tips on a charity, but most ERs I've worked at give patients with no clothes paper scrubs. We have limited storage space. I'd suggest looking for a charity that helps provide suitable professional clothing for people who are homeless and applying for jobs, we have them in my area (or maybe just a homeless shelter?).
posted by treehorn+bunny at 12:22 PM on May 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: But a thrift store would probably price them at their apparent value, and inadvertently snooker someone who could ill-afford that.

Depends on the thrift store, actually. Where I live (Vermont c. 1950) every pair of shoes that goes to the thrift store isn't priced more than $5-8. Church thrift stores are especially like this, I've found. We also have local community organizations of the type treehorn+bunny mentions that help people find professional clothes for work options. Our local vocational high school also keeps a collection of "interview clothes" for the kids so they can look nice for a job interview even if they don't own any professional clothes. If your location in your profile is accurate, I'd contact these people who could direct you appropriately. Obviously that is for women but I'm sure they'd know who serves men in that area.
posted by jessamyn at 12:29 PM on May 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Poshmark is usually for women's clothing but there's a good market there for men's items too. You might have luck selling the shoes there for a decent price.
posted by Hermione Granger at 12:40 PM on May 17, 2015

I don't know if you live in a place where this is feasible, but an easy way to accomplish this where I live would be to put the shoes in a box out by the road with a FREE sign.
posted by Redstart at 12:40 PM on May 17, 2015

Response by poster: I don't have tips on a charity, but most ERs I've worked at give patients with no clothes paper scrubs. We have limited storage space.

Understood, but some hospital systems specifically provide for this. Oregon Health & Science University calls theirs the "Clothes Closet" program, and they periodically make it known what particular kinds of clothes they have a persistent need for.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:58 PM on May 17, 2015

Soles4souls is where I always donate my shoes.
posted by umwhat at 1:06 PM on May 17, 2015

There are certain charities that dresses poor people up so they can get a proper job. Maybe search in that direction? They tend to be only big cities though.

Thrift stores generally price stuff very low, though I've seen some Goodwills with a "premium goods" section with like new merchandise commanding a premium price.
posted by kschang at 1:08 PM on May 17, 2015

Career Gear is a men's version of Dress for Success, and they accept donations of dress shoes. Looks like they're not local to you but I'm sure they'd be happy if you mailed them your nice shoes.
posted by jabes at 1:16 PM on May 17, 2015

Best answer: The ER where I work does have a small clothing closet; most of the clothes seem to come from staff and it is a bit of a hassle to keep it clean. In other hospitals the clergy have a cache of donated clothing. If you want to go that route I'd call and ask for social work department. However, although I work in a hospital my clients are all homeless and I think a local homeless shelter would likely be better set up to handle and distribute your donations. Shoes are great so good on you for thinking of donating them.
posted by latkes at 2:16 PM on May 17, 2015

Best answer: You might check if Central City Concern wants them.
posted by latkes at 2:20 PM on May 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

In any case, I would securely tape a note to the sole of the shoe identifying the flaw so that the agency or recipient can evaluate for themselves if it matters to them. Imagine the poor man, picking your shoes over another pair in the clothes closet, knowing that whichever pair he picked, needs to last a long time and then getting home and discovering a flaw that might have made him choose the other pair instead. He may be stuck with that choice far longer than the Goodwill buyer. So, give them the information (in way that one get separated from the shoes) and they can make their own decision.
posted by metahawk at 3:14 PM on May 17, 2015

Best answer: From an anonymous member:
Central City Concern's Sobering Station at 51 NE Grand will always take adult clothing. People who pass through there are always, always desperately in need of new footwear. You can get a donation receipt if you'd like one. Thanks for considering CCC.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:59 PM on May 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

You didn't say whether you want a receipt for your donation, but if you don't you could just offer them directly to a homeless person. I did that once with a bag of Hubby's shoes (worn, but with some life left in them): went to the farmer's market where homeless people often hang out, found an approachable-looking person, showed them the shoes and asked if they knew anybody who could use them. (It seemed a little more respectful than asking if they could use them.) Their face lit up and they accepted the bag happily, and I skedaddled. When I looked back a little later they were going through the bag with a friend, so I guess the whole thing went over OK. Maybe try the direct approach?
posted by Quietgal at 7:05 PM on May 17, 2015

Sorry - what is the flaw? If it's a flaw that makes them uncomfortable, then they can't be given away. If it's a flaw that reduces their value, you're still going to get your biggest value by ebaying/craigslisting/consignment-shopping them with a flattering write-up that mentions the flaw in a positive way, and then donating the cash.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 7:17 PM on May 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

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