Explained: Why our stores can’t accept all donations

Apr 6, 2018

The Salvation Army understands that it can be frustrating for you to bring your donated couch, TV, dresser, or other used goods to one of our stores, only to discover that we cannot accept the items.

Thrift store outdoor signPlease, rest assured that The Salvation Army is not trying to ruin your day.

“What many of our donors don’t realize is that we have strict rules to follow,” said Major Jerry O’Neil, who helps oversee Salvation Army Stores in the Twin Cities. “Breaking these rules can result in costly fines or lawsuits. Most importantly, these rules protect our shoppers. Safety is our number one priority.”

Oftentimes, federal inspectors stop by our stores to make sure we aren’t selling donated items that are hazardous, have been recalled, or violate a long list of other government rules concerning the reselling of used goods.

Here are some of the most common items we must turn away:

  • Toys and baby items such as car seats and high chairs. (Baby clothes are accepted and in great need.)
  • Tube, console and projection TVs
  • Older entertainment centers and TV armoires
  • Metal, school and office desks and credenzas
  • Appliances older than 10 years and built-in appliances such as ovens and dishwashers
  • Mattresses and box springs
  • Furniture with rips, broken pieces, stains, odors, or pet hair

Another reason that some donations are turned away: If a Salvation Army Store accepts an item but is not allowed to sell it, the store must pay to dispose of it.

“This costs our stores money that could otherwise be used to help people,” O’Neil said.

In the Twin Cities, store proceeds fund The Salvation Army Rehabilitation Center in Minneapolis, which provides free or affordable long-term addiction-recovery services for men (read success story). In Greater Minnesota and North Dakota, store proceeds fund local Salvation Army programs that provide food, clothing, shelter, and other critical services for people and families in need.

Donate today

Thankfully, the list of items that Salvation Army Stores accept is much longer than the list of items they don’t.

Sorting donationsOur 30 stores across the Twin Cities, Greater Minnesota and North Dakota are happy and waiting to accept your donations of new or gently-used clothing, furniture and household goods. Find your nearest location for drop-off hours.

In addition to helping people, your donations will lessen your debt to Uncle Sam. All donations are tax-deductible, with write-offs ranging from $2 for a shirt, to $1,000 for a complete bedroom set, and everything in between. View our complete tax valuation guide and list of acceptable donations.

Please join The Salvation Army by volunteering or making a donation to support your local community.

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