View Full Version : Donated clothing

Debbie V
09-07-2010, 03:31 AM
Hi Folks,

I'm hoping someone can tell me what happens behind the scenes. You drop the clothes at the church, then what? Is it inspected, washed, repaired? How do they decide to whom to give each item?

Thanks for any help.


09-07-2010, 03:52 AM
I know at the goodwill here, which is run by several churches. They inspect it for tears, stain etc... I don't think they rewash it. If it's suitable for useage they just tag it and put it out for sale.
The stuff that's not suitable, they sell to garages and such for rags.

09-07-2010, 03:58 AM
The Wesleyan (Sp?) Mission at the Methodist Church takes in donations for a thrift store (like Goodwill). They keep the things that aren't worn out beyond use, or just something they wouldn't sell (broken radiator hoses? really? used stripper-styled beaded G-strings? seriously?) and then launder everything, sort it by size, and put it in racks like a regular store.

At Christmas, the better clothes (so close to new you couldn't tell they weren't) and toys in the same condition are picked out and separated according to need. (if available)

Ex: A family of 5 with 1 parent and 4 children, 3 boys, 1 girl

Mom: 1 pair of jeans; shoes; shirt; coat; maybe a dress or some sort of work clothes

children: jeans, shirt, coat, shoes; 2 toys of an appropriate age leve;.

If the kid's a baby, then they might donate things like onsies instead.

09-07-2010, 04:55 AM
I don't think the larger thrift chains launder anything, They might inspect for obvious stains or bad smells. A lot of donated clothing gets donated again, or sold, to places in Africa or Asia, if they don't sell at the store. If you ever watched a news program with images of people wearing obviously American clothing and wondered how they got it, that's how.

Debbie V
09-08-2010, 01:57 AM
Thanks folks. If the church gives things to other church members, then it would be possible to recognize a fellow parishioner is wearing something you donated? Very interesting.

I'm working on a picture book that traces a dress from the original owner through hand me downs to a friend and then is donated to the church. I like the idea of seeing the dress on the final girl through the eyes of the second, but don't want to do that if it wouldn't happen.

09-08-2010, 03:39 AM
It definitely happens in smaller communities, and especially around Christmas when the donation pool is larger.

(Are you aware that the writer of PB's doesn't usually do the artwork for them?)

09-08-2010, 04:45 AM
I always wash clothing before donating it. And I have seen someone wearing something I know was from my closet. I typically donate in a small community near my Dad's summer home, where the pool of people to donate is much smaller than the pool of people needing donations. And when the item is something you made, it is rather obvious. Being polite, I would never mention to the person that I knew where their clothing came from.


09-08-2010, 04:58 AM
Last night at dinner the waitress was wearing a monogrammed white men's dress shirt. I don't know if it belonged to someone she knew, or lived with, or if she got it at a thrift store.

I've donated monogrammed shirts before, but I've never seen anyone wearing any of mine.

09-08-2010, 06:48 AM
I once spent a few hours volunteering at a ginormous Christian thrift store donation center. They had us sorting through the newly donated clothing: anything still in good condition (no holes, stains, etc.) was placed in the appropriate bin based on gender and type of garment. Anything that had holes or stains was placed in a larger bin to be "baled." All of that clothing was compressed into a giant cube (like a bale of hay, but bigger than my apartment at college), to be shipped to third-world countries.

09-08-2010, 06:54 AM
The Oxfam I help with did have a steamer. And clothes that were in rough condition were sold as rags to some company that made filling/stuffing.

Giant Baby
09-08-2010, 08:19 AM
The church I belong to requests laundered clothing, linens, etc, but volunteers still take everything (suitable) home and launder it. Hell, they stitch up small tears and such.

This isn't the norm, but the OP mentioned clothing being dropped at a church. As you can see, you've got a lot of leaway here. What would you like to see happen, Debbie V? Maybe we can tell you if it's plausible?

Tsu Dho Nimh
09-10-2010, 11:53 PM
I'm working on a picture book that traces a dress from the original owner through hand me downs to a friend and then is donated to the church. I like the idea of seeing the dress on the final girl through the eyes of the second, but don't want to do that if it wouldn't happen.

Definitely happened in my small town - a dress my mom made for my older sister went to a friend's daughter, and then back to me and then to the local Mormon church's "closet" ... where it somehow ended up with a Catholic farm family and their daughters, one of whom was a classmate of mine. I was happy to see that the dress, which had been one of my favorites, was still around and looking good.

This tells me several things:
1 - my mom was one heck of a quality seamstress for that dress to go through 5 girls in less than five years and still look good.
2 - the Mormon bishops and the Catholic bishops shared a lot of resources

And in that town, even the banker's daughters word hand-me-down dresses.

09-12-2010, 03:32 PM
We were a small place. We sorted the incoming clothes and tossed that which wasn't really wearable, laundered/fixed/whatever needed it, and otherwise put things neatly on hangers. Visitors could more or less choose what they needed.

Marian Perera
09-12-2010, 07:26 PM
I used to volunteer at a church thrift store. We usually got clothes in such quantities that doing anything other than pricing and hanging them up wasn't an option. If they were in good condition other than needing a wash or a button attached, they would usually be priced for pennies and put in a separate box (and I usually ended up buying them).

It was a fairly high-end thrift store, so very often you couldn't tell that something had been donated - with one exception. When pricing shoes, we would write the price on the soles of the shoes because tags had a way of falling off (or being removed). Customers complained that when they wore the shoes to church and knelt in the pews, the people behind them could see how much they'd paid for their shoes.

Debbie V
09-15-2010, 06:32 AM
Hi Folks,

Thanks for all your stories. It's a lot to think about. I'm glad my characters are around five. That young, they don't know not to mention that it used to be their dress.

Both my kids wear hand me downs. My 5 year old has more clothes in size seven/eight than my nine year old. She's actually wearing that size. All of our clothes go to friends in PA. They donate to the church, but they know which family gets their clothes.

I like the "links in a chain" aspect of it. We're connected to these people through the things we've given to someone else.


Debbie V
12-15-2010, 02:46 AM
The story has changed as happens, but it still gets behind the scenes a bit. I'd like to price that dress - picture a size five velor ankle length bottom, top is white polyester with polka dots to match the skirt and long sleeves. A ribbon runs around the waist to tie in back. It's been worn only two or three times before now. I can find a local price, but LI can be high priced and the story is in a more rural area, maybe PA. Any ideas for thrift pricing?

12-15-2010, 02:45 PM
PA thrift store shopper here and I've also volunteered in one. If the item was nice enough and not laundered, one of the vols took it home. We used to send the real junk to whatever country needed them--we send some to Bosnia during a war there etc. We mostly sent children's items, so that dress could very well end up helping one of the victims of the Haiti earthquakes.
A friend of mine has 5 sisters and during the late summer they used to see migrant worker kids dressed in her catholic school uniforms!

Debbie V
12-15-2010, 07:19 PM
Amy, do you mean you kept the stuff you took home, or washed and brought it back?

What about a price on the dress?

12-15-2010, 08:03 PM
I shop Goodwill so much they know my name. I could afford new, but I love hunting the treasures, and so does my daughter. It's a rare day when neither of us is wearing something we bought used. (Underwear is always new to us, I note.)

My area's Goodwill store would price that dress around $6.99 - $9.99, based on its apparent quality and whether it's still at all fashionable. If it cost over $100 new and somebody there recognized it as an expensive item, it might be as high as $15.99.

A steal, right?

Maryn, bargain hunter

12-15-2010, 11:18 PM
Amy, do you mean you kept the stuff you took home, or washed and brought it back?

What about a price on the dress?
Occasionally we kept something if we really liked it, but we usually washed it and brought it back to sell.
Unless the dress was a brand name or new with tags or in excellent condition and very fashionable, we wouldn't tag it for more than $5 and probably less. Because it's a long dress, it might be a dollar or two more. In the area I volunteered I can't think of any kids clothing that was over $5. It's a lower middle class area. People expect cheap in the thrift store I helped out.

Now, I shop in the high end thrift stores where you could expect $7-8 dollars for a fairly good condition, unknown brand name w/o tags. I've seen designer kids dresses with tags for the high teens, but that is rare (though rich people do consign or donate really nice things, often unused).

12-15-2010, 11:20 PM
There used to be a consignment store for high end girls and teenagers. They mostly had designer items or items from stores like Nordstroms or other boutiques. Some of the items could run over $20 if they were new.

Debbie V
12-16-2010, 03:34 AM
Thanks Ladies. I'm thinking I might go with $7.99 then. A good deal.