How to Donate Clothes to a Homeless Shelter

The right items — which you may have in your home already — can make a big difference

Paul Ryburn, M.Sc.
6 min readJun 4, 2024
clothes closet
Image by Public Co from Pixabay

Dropping clothing off at a parking lot charity donation box can make you feel good. It can make you feel like “you did something.” But did you really? Many of the items left there are simply thrown away. Those that don’t get may sold at a thrift store.

If you donate to those sources, the chance is not that great that the clothes will end up with those who really need them and can’t afford to pay anything for them.

I am currently homeless. For the past 4 months I’ve been staying at a men’s shelter. We have a clothes closet there that allows us to put on a fresh set of clothes each day after we shower. It is wonderful. The fresh clothes make us look less homeless and feel like a functioning member of society.

If there’s a shelter in your community, give them a call and see if they can use your gently-worn clothes. Below I will discuss items that are in especially high demand as well as items that should not be donated.

One note: I am a man staying in a men’s shelter. Therefore, this list is naturally going to be somewhat man-centric. I invite someone to write the female version of this article and leave a link in the comments.



Paul Ryburn, M.Sc.

I write about writing, ideas, creativity, homelessness, intuition, spirituality, life lessons. Ex-college teacher Twitter: @paulryburn