For most parents and families, the holidays are a wonderful time to renew a sense of charity.  We consider what gifts to give family members and friends and how that gift will bring them joy.  The holidays are also an opportunity for parents to teach their kids about giving to people who are in different circumstances than themselves. Inflation, unemployment, loss of home and health can all put people in difficult financial circumstances and the holidays are a time to help our kids truly see and attend to their neighbors in need. 


One great way for kids to give a helping hand this holiday season is through giving charitable donations.  Austin is blessed with many great organizations that exist to meet the needs of people that have fallen on hard time.  During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic many of our city’s donation centers were closed and not taking donations due to increased sanitation precautions, but now these centers are back up and running and in need of your gifts now more than ever.


You may decide to have your kids pick out gifts at the store and take them to donation centers.  Or you can help your kids realize their own abundance by having them sort through their own toys and pick out a few good ones for a child around their age.  Many of the organizations listed below also have Amazon wish lists that you can access.  You can give before the holiday season or afterwards. There are so many options and ways to give to donation centers. However you approach it, teaching your child to be charitable and compassionate, especially around the holidays, is a beautiful thing.  Read on for five donation centers in Austin that will be ready and grateful to receive your gifts.


The Settlement Home for Children

1600 Payton Gin Road

Austin, TX


Who it serves:  The Settlement Home for Children is a non-profit organization that serves individuals who have experienced severe emotional trauma, abuse and neglect.  They provide children in the foster care system the materials and support they need.


What you can give:  The Settlement Home for Children always accepts financial donations, but they also have an Amazon wish list that is accessible through their website. Look over it with your family and consider purchasing one of their wish list items.  On it you’ll find all kinds of things that kids want and need, including Halloween costumes, room décor and various toys.


Austin Creative Reuse

2005 Wheless Lane

Austin, TX 78723


Who it serves:  Austin Creative Reuse is located in the Windsor Park area of east Austin.  They sell gently used creative materials at an affordable price to those in need. 


What you can give:  Austin Creative Reuse is one of the only donation centers in Austin that accepts gently used arts and craft supplies. With your kids’ help, sort through their art bins and create a donate pile.  Make sure those supplies are clean and in good working order.  Through your donations, Austin Creative Reuse has been able to keep more than one million pounds of reusable materials out of landfills.


SAFE Donation Warehouse

1513 Grove Blvd

Austin, TX


Who it serves: The SAFE Alliance is a merger of Austin Children’s Shelter and SafePlace.  SAFE serves survivors of child abuse, sexual assault and exploitation and domestic violence. 


What you can give:  SAFE welcomes in-kind donations at their warehouse location throughout the year but check their website for details on specific days and times to donate.  Individuals, families, groups and churches can assemble seasonal kits to donate to SAFE.  In addition, they are always in need of home furniture as well as personal hygiene items.  For the comprehensive wish list, visit SAFE’s website. 


Donate This Recycle That

Various locations throughout the Austin, TX area


Who it serves:  This unique organization can assist you with donating your gently used items to three important charities: Arms of Hope, AMVETS NSF and The National Children’s Cancer Society.  Donate This Recycle That has donation drop-off locations all throughout Austin. 


What you can give: Schedule online to donate your household items and gently used clothing. Your children will feel good knowing they’re helping keep clothing out of landfills.


Society of St. Vincent De Paul Thrift Store

901 W. Braker Lane

Austin, TX

Who it serves: The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Stores provide clothes, electronic, housewares and toys at very affordable prices to all kinds of people in the Austin area.


What you can give:  Have your kids sort through their toys, games and clothes. Decide what doesn’t fit any longer and what toys they’ve outgrown.  Encourage your kids to clean and then box up these items and together take them to the St. Vincent De Paul store.  Your kids will feel great for helping others in need.


Jess Archer is a writer, mom of two kids and wife. She is the author of the memoir, Finding Home with the Beatles, Bob Dylan and Billy Graham.

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