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Donation etiquette: What stores do and don't want

Why you should be making sure your item is really someone else's treasure - or just more trash for the store.

INDIANAPOLIS — The Habitat for Humanity ReStore sells the donations it receives in its storefronts. 

But before scheduling a pickup or dropping something off, make sure the item could be someone else's treasure instead of the store's trash.

Lamar McCauley is one of the customers who likes to hunt for bargains.

"What would normally cost you $1,000, you could get here for $100," McCauley said. 

And McCauley is able to buy his bargains because people were thoughtful about what they donated.

Natalie Wilson with Habitat's ReStore said they accept most items.

"We accept gently used items, most commonly things like furniture, appliances," Wilson said. 

They also accept new building materials, as long as it's enough to complete a job.

"A kitchen backsplash, bathroom backsplash, something like this is an awesome donation," she said.

What is not an awesome donation - appliances that don't work, mattresses and bedding, and stuff you don't want for a reason.

Wilson said when in doubt, ask yourself, would you give it to your grandmother?

"Whether that is a chair, a table that you would give her to use. We just ask that the items be in good condition and don't need any kind of repair or restoration," Wilson said.

The less obvious donation don'ts can include baby and infant items subject to the recall system. 

"Car seats are a really great example," Wilson said.

Unlike Goodwill, ReStores do not take clothing. 

If donors drop stuff items the ReStore can't sell, it goes in the trash, which is expensive.

Last year, Wilson said between five local ReStore locations, they spent upwards of $100,000 just on dumpsters.

"If it's a donation that we can't sell, it becomes a tax on our resources and that's how we get dumpsters like this,"

Make sure your donations are grandma-approved so people like McCauley get bargains and Habitat can build houses.


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