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DES MOINES, Iowa — The holiday season is over and the kids have new toys to keep them busy. But what about all the toys they don’t play with anymore? Local non-profits want them.

“Our toy shelves are bare right now,” said Missy Reams, program director with Bidwell Riverside Food Pantry. “We go through all the toys we get in, the day they come in.”

Reams said toys and kid-related items are some of the toughest to stock at the pantry.

Other local non-profits echo Reams’ observations but relief is on the way.

“The Christmas frenzy is over and people are trying to organize and clean up,” said Nicole Opfer, owner of “A lot of kids have outgrown their old toys or simple have moved on from those toys from last year.”

Opfer writes lifestyle articles for moms in the metro and this is one of her most popular pieces each year.

“This was my most shared story of the year,” says Opfer. “We are constantly outgrowing things. We have baby stuff, then toddler stuff and kids stuff. It amazes me how much stuff we all have.”

Opfer has a list of five places you can drop off those used toys.

But before heading out to drop things off Opfer has a few tips.

“The items accepted by local thrift stores varies a little by organization,” said Opfer. “Make sure to check the organization’s website or give them a call before loading up the family truckster. You don’t want to get to the site and then have them not accept several of your items.”

Is there anything you need to do before you drop the toys off?

“Make sure the toys are safe and lead-free.  You might want to check and make sure that the toys you are donating have not been recalled, are lead-free (there are a lot of lists available on which toys have been found to contain lead), and are considered as a safe toy by you personally,” said Opfer.

WIll they reject anything?

“Make sure the toys are clean. Charities report having to throw away items they receive because they are filled with sand from a sandbox, caked in mud, are covered with dried-on food or other unidentifiable gunk, or covered with marker scribbles. Do not donate anything with missing pieces. If you plan to donate a puzzle or game, be sure that all of the essential pieces are included. Who wants to assemble a puzzle with missing pieces? Bottom line is do not donate anything you wouldn’t let your own kids play with,” said Opfer.

Any other tips?

“Charitable giving helps teach kids the value of sharing and generosity. Involve your kids in the purging process and let them know that their old toys will be going to a new home. Be sure to get a receipt for your donation and include it as a charitable gift when you file your tax return. Charitable giving comes from the heart, but there’s a positive bonus that comes with being able to deduct your generous donation as well,” said Opfer.

Places to donate:

Beacon of Life, 1717 Woodland Avenue • Des Moines, IA 50309 • (515) 244-4713 •

Goodwill of Central Iowa, Multiple Locations •

Hope Ministries, 1310 6th Avenue • Des Moines, IA 50314 • (515) 244-5445 •

The Not New Shop, 705 East University Avenue • Des Moines, IA 50316 • (515) 266-7610 •

St. Vincent de Paul, 1426 Sixth Avenue • Des Moines, IA 50314 • (515) 282-8327 •