The coronavirus pandemic shut down or otherwise disrupted organizations that facilitate home decor, clothing, and furniture donations in Greater Boston. Groups such as Habitat for Humanity and Goodwill fell largely outside of essential-business mandates, and residents lost reliable options for offloading the lightly used stuff they no longer needed — or never needed.
This loss, of course, occurred as perhaps more Boston-area residents than ever were decluttering to make room for home-schooling and working remotely.
Well, residents are still hunkering down at home as fall approaches. Luckily, nonprofit donation points are up and running again. (And they might be better options than renting self-storage, though you can do that now, too.)
Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries has 15 stores and 11 donation centers with attendants in Massachusetts, among other drop-off sites. Most of its centers and stores are in the Boston area. The pandemic shuttered these locations, and the nonprofit had employees at each to prevent residents from just dumping their donations outside.
The stores are open Monday through Saturday — though not all accept donations — and the centers are open seven days a week. A spokesman for Goodwill suggested people check a store’s website before trying to donate, and asked that people drop off things with an employee, not outside the store. Gently worn clothing and household items are always in demand, the spokesman said.
At Habitat for Humanity Greater Boston’s ReStore in West Roxbury, appliances that are no more than eight years old are in demand, said Mark Auterio, the nonprofit’s retail operations director. The outlet stayed “pretty much open” during the pandemic, Auterio said via e-mail.
But ReStore is not offering its free pickup service right now, though Auterio added that there is a company willing to do pickups for the nonprofit for “a reasonable cost” to the donor. ReStore does not accept clothing, linens, mattresses, and bedding.
At local Salvation Army stores and dropboxes, any and all gently used donations are welcome, according to Captain Joseph Swistak. The stores — including locations in Boston, Somerville, and Norwood — reopened in July. The organization is now doing pickup service again, too, though donors should be patient: Swistak noted that the earliest available pickup dates are in September.
As for the nonprofit’s dropboxes, those have been available throughout the pandemic. “And the governor had considered our trucks essential,” Swistak added via e-mail, “so as not to have any issues with unattended locations being overwhelmed with donations.”
AIDS Action reopened one of its three Boomerangs stores in July: its Jamaica Plain location. The South End and Central Square spots remain closed. The JP store is offering seniors-only hours Monday through Friday from 10 to 11 a.m. and is accepting donations Monday through Saturday in the back of the store. It especially wants home decor and kitchenware, according to general manager Tamarind Tidwell. The nonprofit has yet to restart its furniture pickup service.
Finally, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is reopening its thrift stores in the Boston region, including for donations. The hours and days of operation have changed, though. Donors and shoppers should contact the nonprofit for more information.
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Correction: Because of a reporting error, a previous version of this story gave the incorrect store hours for Goodwill.