The Do’s and Don’ts of Donations

The holidays are drawing close, and one of my favorite parts about the season is the increased desire to donate and give back to the community. Food banks and clothing drives pop up everywhere, and the spirit of giving is almost palpable. While almost all donations are always welcome, there are certain items that all food banks almost always need. This is a list of the items that you should actively try to donate to your local drive:

Canned Proteins

canned meats

As we know, protein is a hugely important part of human dietary needs; food banks are always happy to receive them. Make sure that it’s canned or heavily preserved though. The last thing you want to do is donate food that won’t last.

Some Proteins to think about donating include:

  • Canned Tuna & Salmon
  • Canned Chicken
  • Canned Beans & Chickpeas
  • Canned Chilis (and bean-heavy soups)
  • Peanut Butter


Hygiene Products

toothbrush and toothpaste

Personal hygiene products are never what people think of first when deciding what to donate. Things that we consider necessities, like toilet paper & toothpaste, are not always covered by government assistance, so food banks and shelters are always happy to have extra hygiene products come through their doors.

The items that are most helpful are:

  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste
  • Feminine Hygiene Products
  • Deodorant
  • Razors
  • Bandages
  • Baby Wipes

Seasonings & Condiments

condimentsThis is another category of donations that never occurs to many people. It may not seem like a “necessity” at first glance, but imagine only being able to eat canned tuna with no salt and pepper. Spices are hugely appreciated by shelters and donation-receivers alike. A few things to think about donating when you’re doing your food donations are:

  • Mayonnaise
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard

(Bonus)Items You Shouldn’t Donate

As I mentioned earlier, almost all donations are welcome, but there are a few things that are just not helpful. Highest on that list is alcohol. Food banks and shelters won’t even accept it; even if it’s a well-intentioned holiday offering. Cake mixes (and any other boxed baked goods) are also a sweet gesture, but usually require extras like eggs and oil, which are generally not available in excess.


For more information on what to donate and give back, seek more information from the articles that inspired this post: 1 2 & 3