I recently saw a touching story about a previously homeless family that found housing but lacked any home furnishings — until a local charity helped them out. (Click the link to see the short video, including before and after photos.)
Eight-year-old Daerye Neely and mom Dionna Neely walked into their new home in Detroit to find a wonderful surprise – a furnished home decorated for free by charity Humble Design after the co-founders heard about the Neelys’ story of hardship.
Since I’m always looking for good places for people to donate the gently used items they no longer want or need, I wanted to know more — so I started investigating.
Humble Design is “a non-profit helping families transitioning out of homeless shelters by providing furnishings and design services. We turn their empty house into a clean, dignified, and welcoming home.” And given that mission, it takes a wide range of donations: furniture, rugs, artwork, linens, towels, books, toys (excluding stuffed animals), TVs, dish sets, silverware, mugs, and more. Pick-up services are available for large furniture items, although only in certain areas — and there’s a wait list.
I’ve written about furniture banks before, and many of these accept more than just furniture. For example, see the listing for the Furniture Bank serving greater Toronto, Canada. Furniture banks, working with partner agencies, provide a great service for “the previously homeless, unemployed and working poor, battered women and children in retreat, immigrants, individuals with mental or physical disabilities, victims of a fire, robbery, and natural disasters, etc.” And these items are provided at little or no cost.
Organizations like Humble Design don’t identify as furniture banks, but they seem to provide somewhat comparable services. Other charities that seem similar to Humble Design include:
- Furnishing Hope, serving Tempe, Arizona and vicinity
- Furnishing Hope of Massachusetts
- Schenectady Home Furnishings in New York
- Shelter to Home program at Highlands United Church in Vancouver, British Columbia
- The Provision of Basic Need Items program at A Wider Circle, serving the Washington D.C. area
All of these organizations have specific wish lists and standard donation guidelines. None of them want items with stains, odors, rips, or any other major wear. Linens and towels should be washed before donating.
If you have household furnishings to donate — especially furniture, which many organizations don’t handle — furniture banks and organizations like Humble Design are good to keep in mind.