This time of year I find myself going through my kids’ toys trying to purge what they don’t play with anymore. I do the same thing when I dig out the winter coats, mitts and hats for the season. I usually end up a with a pile of toys and clothes that we can’t use anymore but are still in great shape. In an effort to maintain my sanity, I really try to get things we don’t have a need for out of the house as soon as possible to reduce clutter in our home. And of course, I know that there are lots of families in our community that could use items like these this winter. I feel called to share what I have, when I can, with others who find themselves in need from time to time. It is a type of self-serving giving. Not only am I able to purge our home of unwanted items, but I also have an opportunity to help others, and doesn’t that always feel good?
Sometimes it can be hard to know where or how to donate your things. Some places resell items, some places only accept certain types of goods, and other places keep irregular hours. It is always important to remember that places need to be selective about what they can accept, both to protect volunteers and staff, but also to ensure that their resources are spent where it counts, helping others in the community (and not trying to get rid of unwanted donated goods). You can actually do more harm than good sometimes, so if you are trying to make sure your items go to good use doing a little research ahead of time is a great idea.
To make things a little easier, I contacted plenty of community organizations and charities in Saint John to find out what they were looking for, and when you could drop it off. If you are in Saint John and are looking for a place to donate money, food, gently used toys or clothes, here is your guide.
647 Brunswick Drive, open Monday-Friday 8am-4pm, Saturday & Sunday 9am-1pm
The Romero House operates primarily as a soup kitchen in the heart of uptown and aims to provide at least one hot meal every day for those in need. They also have a free clothing and household items bank where people are able to get what they may need for themselves or their homes. They accept donations of gently used men’s, women’s and children’s clothing as well as toys, books, electronics and household goods. Food is always welcome at Romero House as a donation, and they will even take cooked leftovers from catered events like Christmas parties or weddings. If you attend a big event with lots of leftovers this year, consider taking them to Romero House!
Outflow Saint John
162 Waterloo St, open Monday-Friday 8:30am-8pm
Outflow started in 2008 when a couple of friends brought hot dogs and hot chocolate to a group of hungry people in King Square. They now currently operate the only men’s emergency shelter in Saint John, providing a space for men to get a warm night’s sleep while they search for stable housing. They have an extensive wish list of items that they accept as donations on their website which you can view here, primarily food. Being a men’s shelter, this is one of the only places in our area that takes men’s clothing donations, including boots, shoes, socks, jackets and coats. They also serve shelter-goers and community members over 800 meals a week, so happily accept fresh food donations like milk, bread and cereal. Outflow also asks for $5 gift certificates to gas stations, grocery stores and even Tim Horton’s and McDonalds, so people with nowhere to go during the daytime can sit somewhere warm and enjoy a cup of coffee during particularly cold, snowy or wet days.
The Joshua Group
Project Headquarters, Sandy Point Road Property, open Thursday evenings and all day Sunday, or by appointment through the week (just call Bobby at 645-9664). For the Kids Thrift Shop, 201 Charlotte Street, open Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm
The Joshua Group is a 100% volunteer organization in Saint John that serves 150 at-risk youth (aged 4-18) by providing them with “basic necessities, mentoring, education and a foundation to break the cycle of poverty and instill hope for a brighter future”. They provide meals, transportation, clothing and gifts to the kids and they do so with the donations of others in our community. They also operate the For the Kids Thrift Shop, which accepts clothing, toy and household item donations of all types which they then sell. All proceeds go back to support the Joshua Group.
This year, The Joshua Group is looking to collect new toys and clothing items on a wishlist they put together to ensure that every single child in their group gets something for Christmas. If you would like to donate to this cause or buy something off the list please call Sharon Walsh at 647-9929.
Coverdale Center for Women
148 Waterloo St, open Monday-Friday between 8am-4pm, and weekends by appointment (just call 634-1445).
Coverdale is a community-based organization that provides innovative support programs to women in Saint John. They are experts on issues that affect women and provide coaching and support to both individuals and community organizations that may require training, while also operating a shelter for those in immediate need. While they do have a website and an online donation list here, they are currently in need of non-perishable food items, prepared freezer meals, Ensure (meal replacement supplement drink), women’s pajamas in all sizes, tissues, toilet paper, paper towels, new underwear, socks, yoga/sweatpants, and $5 gift cards to Tim Horton’s or McDonald’s.
120 Coburg Street, Monday-Friday 9am-4:30 pm
What: First Steps first opened its doors to young women in 2002. It serves to provide a safe place to live for parenting and pregnant young women. The organization has helped many women get affordable housing, education and employment while providing them a safe place to bring their babies home to temporarily. They are an active group within the community, and throw the ever-popular Touch a Truck fundraiser every fall. First Steps has a wishlist you can view here, including toiletries for new moms and baby essentials, like diapers, wipes, bottles, liners, crib sheets, receiving blankets and the like.
211 Main Street, open Tuesdays & Fridays 9am-11am
The Hope Mission is a community outreach run and organized by Rivercross Church in the North End. In addition to the dinners they serve every week for residents of the neighborhood, they have a clothing bank where people in the community are welcome to get items they need for no charge. They happily accept adult and children’s clothing and shoes as donations.
Hillcrest Baptist Church
476 Lancaster Avenue, open regularly Monday-Friday 9am-3pm. Hillcrest will accept donations anytime the building is open, including evenings and weekends when services are operating.
Hillcrest Baptist Church also operates a bank out of their facility on the West Side, where people are welcome to come and get any items they may need. In addition to clothing for both adults and children, they also accept and distribute household items, like dishes and glassware, small kitchen appliances, and gently used children’s toys and baby gear. During the influx of Syrian refugees to Saint John, Hillcrest was pivotal in acquiring and distributing furniture, clothing and household items to families who arrived here with nothing.
Fresh Start Services for Women Inc.
66 Waterloo Street
Fresh Start is a poverty-related community agency that supports women, children and the elderly in Saint John who are homeless, or soon to become so. They provide advocates for people in crisis situations and provide long-term support to ensure people’s continued success in the aftermath. This time of year they run an exciting program to fund their work. If you are in the market for a Christmas tree this year, consider buying one through their Festive Firs Fundraiser! The trees are competitively priced, come in a range of sizes and can even be delivered if need be to many areas. They accept orders until December 5th. Call 635-4122 for more information or to place an order.
Boys & Girls Club
1 Paul Harris Street, open Monday-Friday 8am-5pm
The Boys & Girls Club of Saint John’s mission is to “provide a safe, supportive place where children and youth can experience new opportunities”. They offer after-school services in art, technology and recreation and even serve children hot meals. They look for donations year-round in gently used children’s clothing, books & toys (no stuffed animals), art supplies, school supplies, backpacks, lunchboxes, hats, mittens, socks and scarves.
Bobby’s Hospice & The Hospice Shoppe
77 Catherwood St, open Monday-Friday 9am-5pm
Bobby’s Hospice provides end of life care for people with terminal illnesses or for those who are in their final days and weeks of life. The staff of expert healthcare professionals and trained volunteers are a huge support to the people they care for, and also the families coping with a loved one’s loss. They fundraise through donations over $1 million every year to cover the cost of care. They accept food donations, gift cards and household supplies at the hospice, but a large part of their fundraising is done through the Hospice Shoppe, where they resell high-quality donated clothing, shoes and accessories for women, men and children. They offer tax receipts for donations made to the Hospice Shoppe.
There are many wonderful options in our city to donate money, food, clothing and even household items, and these organizations are only a few. Other places you may want to learn more about include AIDS Saint John, The Crescent Valley Resource Centre and the Salvation Army. If you can think of others, please let us know!
Ingrid Munroe lives in Saint John, New Brunswick with her husband and two boys. She has a degree in English from UNB and currently stays home with her kids full-time. She is a homebody who has an equal love for both nature and Netflix, and who can often be found knitting or writing in her very limited spare time. You can follow her on Instagram (@ingridelyse), Facebook and read more from her at her blog www.ingridelyse.com