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Who Benefits from Donated Clothes?

January 28, 2018


American red cross clothing donations

Have you ever wondered what happens to those clothes you took to the Red Cross clothing pick up? In America, about 70% of people give to charity every year, and nearly 3% of the national income goes to charity. A lot of that charity is in the form of clothes donations or the donation of other household textiles or household goods. But what happens when you say goodbye to your shirts at the Red Cross clothing pick up? Where do they go, and do they help anyone?

Some of Them Go to the Homeless

A lot of used clothing is still in perfectly good shape, and when you donate clothing much of it will find a second life benefiting the poor and homeless. In January of 2015, the coldest month of the year, 564,708 people are believed to have been homeless in the United States. About 15% of that population are considered to be chronically homeless. For many of these people, donated clothes are the only ones they can afford. This is one group of people that clothing donations go to help.

Some of Them Are Re-Sold on Behalf of Charity

Some used clothing donations will go directly to those in need. Others will be washed and re-sold at a steep discount. Those who buy these second-hand clothes are often people with very minimal income who depend on quality used clothing at good prices to keep themselves and their families outfitted. The profits of the sale are generally used by the charity to extend their giving in different ways to even needier groups. That old suit you haven’t worn in ages? The one you took over to the Red Cross clothing pick up? It might just end up doing double duty: it might help someone less fortunate to get a job and also provide the charity with more money. The Red Cross, for example, is the 13th largest charity in America and every day is giving away away blankets, food, blood, and shelter to those in need. The sale of second-hand clothes helps them to do all this.

Some of Them Go Abroad

Many people in the developing world depend on second-hand clothing from the United States. About 14.3 million tons of textiles from America go to clothe people all around the world. This flow of used clothing not only directly benefits those who end up with the clothes, but the need to sort, wash, and process these items provides jobs, as well.

We throw away an awful lot of clothes. Every year Americans are buying 20 million garments, or more than one article of clothing per week, per person. Every year, each of us throws away an average of 10 pounds of clothing and textiles which could be going to a clothing donation center. Next time you’re thinking about tossing that old sweater in the trash, think instead about how it could help someone else.

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