What Happens to Your Donated Clothes and Kids Toys?

Ever wonder what happens to the clothes and toys that you donate? Last week my daughter and I found out what happens with donated items at Cradles to Crayons. A Boston-based non-profit organization, Cradles to Crayons provides the essentials through donated clothes, shoes, toys and school supplies to homeless and disadvantaged children.

My daughter and I were very excited to work at Cradles to Crayons “Giving Factory,” the very creative name for their warehouse of donated goods. We arrived and immediately found lots of helpful staff and volunteer workers.  Once all the volunteer groups were assembled, we all had an introduction to the goals of Cradles to Crayons and saw the end product of the donations: a bag with a week’s worth of clothing, shoes, toys and school supplies for a child.

There are many steps that happen before that bag gets filled for a child. The first step is “Triage” – this is the first sort of donated items to be sure they meet Cradles to Crayons high standards.  Toys and school supplies go to one area, while clothes are then sorted by gender. 

Next the clothing is sorted. This is where my daughter and I worked. She loved sorting types of clothes – shirts, pants, dresses – into the appropriate size bins. We started with a large industrial-size laundry bin of a type of clothing. We looked to make sure each item met the quality standards and then sorted it by size. Working with other volunteers, over two hours we sorted at least for of the huge bins. Later we found out that our work at just the sorting station helped approximately 165 kids!

After the clothes are sorted by gender and size, they go to the Outfit area. Here volunteers put together clothing to make complete outfits. Cradles to Crayons strives to give a child a week’s worth of clothing.

Finally. other volunteers get to go “Shopping” where they pick out outfits, shoes, toys and school supplies from The Giving Factory shelves for a specific child. All they know is the child’s name, gender and age.

This was an extremely well-run volunteer experience, and I was so impressed with the work of this organization. My daughter and I can’t wait to go back.