Madison Area Guide to Volunteering & Giving Back

In preparation for this holiday season of new gifts, let’s all take a moment to see where our unused items can go. You may have new or gently used items that are taking up space in your home or simply collecting dust. Where in our area can you donate them? I did a little homework and found some ideas of where to donate and what items different places will take. For each I have noted a few items you may not know you can donate or that are most in need. Extra information can be found in the links provided.

If there are any local organizations that may have been missed please comment and let us know!

UW Children’s Hospital

Donation Information Please note: All toys should be new. Cannot accept stuffed animals of any kind (new or used) due to infection control concerns. In original packaging and not gift-wrapped. Store bought, and not stored in an attic, basement or garage

  • Board books for infants
  • Bubbles
  • Cake Mate Sprinkles
  • Crayola crayons, markers and colored pencils
  • Glad Press’n Seal
  • Holiday gift bags
  • Play-Doh

Madison Public Library: Donation Information

  • New or gently-used books, magazines, DVDs, and music or books on compact disc.

Dane County Humane Society: Donation Information

  • Squeeze cheese in a can
  • Dry dog food
  • Canned cat food of any brand/variety
  • Clay litter (unscented and non-clumping)
  • Shoe boxes
  • Paper plates for cat enrichment feeding
  • Bed sheets – not fitted
  • Plain Cheerios
  • Unsalted nuts (whole in shell, not peanuts)
  • Paper towels
  • Ziploc baggies – sandwich, quart, or gallon
  • Baby food – vegetables and fruit
  • Unsweetened applesauce

St. Vincent de Paul: Donation Information

  • Clothing, furniture and household items that are in clean, working condition and are suitable for resale in our stores
  • Working or non-working electronics for our “eCycle with St. Vinny’s” program (computers, printers, cell phones, home electronics, etc.)

YWCA Madison: Donation Information

  • Disposable diapers & pull ups (Sizes 3, 4, & 5)
  • Tools—(hammers, tape measures, screw drivers, disposable ear plugs, work belts, etc)
  • Birthday gift wrap
  • Calculators
  • Thumb or jump drives—used and low memory accepted

Easter Seals Wisconsin: Donation Information

  • Used, re-saleable clothing
  • Small household items
  • Furniture


This will vary depending on your daycare but most will take:

  • Sunscreen
  • Craft supplies
  • Paper- scraps and print jobs done wrong are welcomed
  • Books & Toys

 Community Action Coalition for South Central Wisconsin, Inc. (CAC): Donation Information

  • Gently used or new clothing and shoes
  • Children’s books
  • New socks and underwear for men, women and children of all ages and sizes
  • Personal Care Items (unopened)
  • Diapers (baby and adult)
  • Freezer Zip lock bags – quart and gallon size
  • School supplies
  • Paper products (toilet paper and paper towels)
  • Annual wall & pocket calendars
  • First Aid Kits
  • Bikes

Habitat for Humanity: Donation Information

New or gently used materials, fixtures, tools and supplies

  • Appliances — (10 years or newer and 100% working condition)
  • Tools, power, hand, garden, gas items must be tested and in 100% working condition
  • Wood Furniture
  • Windows with insulated glass (no sashes or broken glass)
  • Hardware, cabinet pulls, knobs, hinges, locks, nuts, bolts, screws, nails
  • Doors in good condition (no hollow core slab doors)

Middleton Outreach Ministry: Donation Information

The Rainbow Project: Donation Information

  • Portable CD Players
  • New or Gently Used Doll Houses
  • Dress-Up Clothing & Accessories (especially larger child sizes)
  • Super Hero Costumes
  • Board Games (for ages 6-11 years)
  • Multi-colored Craft Paper
  • Tempera Paints (premixed)
  • Blank Books for Journal Writing

Porchlight: Donation Information

  • Finger Paints (premixed)
  • Modeling Clay
  • Spiral Notebooks or Paper Tablets
  • Black or Blue Ink Pens
  • Multicultural Dolls
  • Small to Medium Size Lego Sets
  • Disposable Cups
  • Dishes and glasses in sets; pots, pans and baking equipment
  • Cook books
  • Linens, such as bath and hand towels; wash rags; twin, double and queen size sheets, cases, blankets, quilts and mattress pads
  • Deodorant
  • Winter Gloves & Hats
  • Baby gates

RISE: Donation Information

  • Lego sets
  • Formula- Similac, Enfamil, Good Start (with iron, soy, and lactose-free)
  • Costumes and dress-up clothes
  • Diapers (sizes 4, 5, & 6)
  • Pull-ups
  • Baby wipes
  • Winter coats and boots (children)
  • Hair care supplies (combs, bands, clips)
  • Bath/water toys

Goodwill: Donation Information

  • Clothing
  • Footwear
  • Household items
  • Computer equipment


  1. This is a wonderful addition to the holiday mmb page. Thank you. I’d add DAIS to the donation list. Also, if this comes out in time next year, Goodman community center has an incredible event putting together thousands of turkey baskets. You can volunteer at the center, shop and drop off food, etc. Thanks again.


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