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Where to donate unwanted items in Sonoma County

Where to donate items

Pick of the Litter, 1701 Piner Road, #A, Santa Rosa. Open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. six days a week and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. Visit forgottenfelines.com for a list of items accepted.

Redwood Gospel Mission, 1821 Piner Road, Santa Rosa. Accepts donations 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day but Sunday. No charge for pickups. For more details visit srmission.org. To arrange a pickup, contact Carol at cward@srmission.org

Goodwill has reopened some of its stores. For a complete list of stores that are open and accepting donations, visit gire.org. Open stores are not accepting furniture.

Sacks Hospice Thrift, 128 Liberty St., Petaluma. Accepts donations 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays and Saturdays. Go to sackshospicethrift.com for more information.

Sutter Hospice Thrift Stores, 3209 Cleveland Ave., Santa Rosa, plus locations in Sebastopol and Rohnert Park. Reopening soon. Open 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday. Watch for the flag outside to see if they’re open.

Republic of Thrift, 17496 Sonoma Highway. Accepts donations one day a week; announced in advance on Facebook (facebook.com/RepublicofThrift). Visit republicofthrift.com for more information.

As soon as the stay-at-home orders went into effect in March, people got to work. With virtually everything shut down, bored and restless Americans, between Netflix binges, started baking bread, planting spring gardens and fiendishly cleaning out closets, cupboards, drawers and garages.

There was one glitch in the act of discarding excess furniture, clothes that no longer fit and books that already had been read. All the thrift stores were closed. Online marketplaces on Facebook, Craigslist and NextDoor offered about the only outlet for offloading all that extra stuff. And for those with boxes of random belongings, listing things item by item was not practical.

Now there is hope for relief for those who have been holding on to boxes of items to donate. Starting in June, thrift stores have been slowly reopening, welcoming the fruits of the pandemic purge.

The options are more limited than they were pre-pandemic. No all thrift stores have reopened. Popular charity thrifts like Heavenly Treasures in downtown Santa Rosa, which benefits The Living Room support organization for homeless women, and The Assistance League shop in Railroad Square, remain closed.

But one of the biggest thrifts, The Redwood Gospel Mission store on Piner Road, is taking in massive volumes of donations, including furniture. Many Goodwills are back in business and boutique shops that support niche charities such as Pick of the Litter, which helps feral cats, are welcoming donations and customers.

On Monday Sutter Hospice Thrift on Cleveland Avenue will open to both retail and donations after a five-month hiatus. Other Sutter Hospice thrifts in Sebastopol and Rohnert Park also are preparing to reopen.

Surge of donations

Brian Benn, manager of Pick of the Litter, said the shop was inundated when they reopened in June and donations have been flooding in at twice the usual rate since then.

“It’s been crazy to say the least. We had a huge volume when we reopened. That first week we had people lined up in the parking lot at all times. And it’s stayed busy. Actually, we closed one day last week so we could stop the flow and catch up.”

At one point the Pick of the Litter volunteer who sorts clothing was completely hidden behind a giant wall of donations.

“She just disappeared into the clothing,” Benn said. “But we were finally able to excavate enough clothing to get to the bottom.”

They even brought in a rented storage container to hold the overage from their warehouse next to the retail shop on Piner Avenue in Santa Rosa.

The thrift operation, he said, has been hampered by the number of volunteers who are older and too much at risk to come to work, a problem other charity thrifts also are facing. But they're managing with their 13 employees.

Marketed as a higher-end thrift, Pick of the Litter is pickier than some thrift shops. They won’t take holiday items, stuffed animals or picture frames, for instance. As a rule they don’t take large furniture. They don’t have the room.

But they do accept household items, clothing, pet products, decorative items, fabric, art, office supplies and better-quality children’s toys. Like many thrifts, they can’t accept bed pillows and mattresses, large appliances, strollers and car seats, old TVs, encyclopedias — no one wants those — and golf clubs. Check their website for a complete list (forgottenfelines.com).

They are open for donations from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. six days a week and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays.

The Redwood Gospel Mission has a large thrift store down the street, a virtual emporium that includes large furniture. And as long as it’s clean and in working condition, and clothing is unstained and with no need for repairs, they’ll take it.

Donations since the shop reopened have tripled, said Manager David Perez.

“Since we reopened we’ve been getting a crazy load,” Perez said of all the donations pouring out of closets, cupboards, kitchen cabinets, garages and storage units since the pandemic hit, leaving people with time on their hands to tidy up. “But I would also say we’ve doubled or tripled the customers coming into the store as well.”

The shutdown of so many businesses left many people struggling to get by. Perez said they’ve had to hire several employees just to meet the demand for second-hand items.

The shop gets donations from Costco, Walmart and Target, which send over new but returned items, making it a picker’s paradise at times.

But they also have a huge need for used household goods, office supplies, bric-a-brac, kitchen items, tableware and clothing.

“We don’t take certain things, like window blinds and window screens,” he said. “But we’re not that picky. We only ask that it be in good condition.”

Where to donate items

Pick of the Litter, 1701 Piner Road, #A, Santa Rosa. Open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. six days a week and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. Visit forgottenfelines.com for a list of items accepted.

Redwood Gospel Mission, 1821 Piner Road, Santa Rosa. Accepts donations 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day but Sunday. No charge for pickups. For more details visit srmission.org. To arrange a pickup, contact Carol at cward@srmission.org

Goodwill has reopened some of its stores. For a complete list of stores that are open and accepting donations, visit gire.org. Open stores are not accepting furniture.

Sacks Hospice Thrift, 128 Liberty St., Petaluma. Accepts donations 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays and Saturdays. Go to sackshospicethrift.com for more information.

Sutter Hospice Thrift Stores, 3209 Cleveland Ave., Santa Rosa, plus locations in Sebastopol and Rohnert Park. Reopening soon. Open 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday. Watch for the flag outside to see if they’re open.

Republic of Thrift, 17496 Sonoma Highway. Accepts donations one day a week; announced in advance on Facebook (facebook.com/RepublicofThrift). Visit republicofthrift.com for more information.

This is a good place to donate furniture. Not all thrifts have the space for it. And they will do home pickups if you can’t lift, don’t have a truck or don’t want to leave your house.

“We’re a nonprofit, so all of the money that comes in goes back to our program members. We help the homeless community and people who have addictions. We have a women’s shelter and a men’s shelter,” Perez said.

They accept donations 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day but Sunday at 1821 Piner Road. There is no charge for pickups. They have five trucks that fan out as far as Healdsburg, Petaluma and Sebastopol. To arrange for a pickup contact Carol at cward@srmission.org. For more details visit srmission.org

Goodwill, hospice thrifts

The Goodwill, a common go-to for many people looking to offload stuff, has reopened their stores in many locations. In Santa Rosa, their store on Fourth Street and their outlet center on Yolanda Avenue are closed. None of their stores that are open are taking furniture. For a complete list of open Goodwills, visit gire.org.

Folks in Petaluma also can bring their pandemic purges to Sacks Hospice Thrift, which supports St. Joseph Health. The shop at 128 Liberty St. sometimes accepts larger pieces of furniture. The items they accept may depend on the day. For instance, if they’ve received a big load of books, they’ll stop accepting books for awhile. Processing of donations also has slowed because like many nonprofits, they have lost their older volunteers during the pandemic.

Store Manager Donna Lippi said donations should be clean. There are certain things they can’t take, such as breadmakers — things they don’t have the time to test. Personal care items like foot baths also are not taken for hygienic reasons. Exercise equipment like treadmills and old exercise bikes don’t sell, unless they are brand new.

Sacks will do some pickups in Petaluma. But they ask people to email a photo of the item they’d like to donate to make sure it is structurally sound and worth accepting. They like good-quality vintage items and antiques. If you have something the kids don’t want and you want it to go to a good cause, Sacks is an option. They accept donations from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays and Saturdays (sackshospicethrift.com).

Sutter Hospice Thrift Stores, with shops in Santa Rosa, Sebastopol and Rohnert Park, are preparing to reopen after being shuttered for five months.

John Riggs, who works at the 3209 Cleveland Ave. store in Santa Rosa, said they are accepting donations now and hope to reopen as early as Monday to retail shoppers.

They accept the full range of second-hand goods, from clothing and household items to children’s toys, books and furniture. Riggs said they prefer either true antique pieces or things that are fairly new. Anything in the range of 20-35 years old just won’t sell.

They will pick up donations, including furniture if you have trouble getting out or have something big to give. But Riggs said they don’t have capacity right now to accept whole apartments or garages full of things. They are accepting donations 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday. Watch for the flag outside to see if they’re open.

In Sonoma Valley, the Republic of Thrift on Sonoma Highway in Agua Caliente is back in business. They’ve trimmed their hours but are happy to accept donations one day a week. Jeannette Tomany, who founded the nonprofit store to support Sonoma Valley public schools, usually takes donations from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Fridays or Saturdays. Tomany said she usually announces on Monday on Facebook which day they will be taking donations.

“We don’t do furniture. We’re not big enough for that,” she said. “We just take housewares and all the basic stuff. We turn some things away if they’re really dirty or need to be fixed. We’re not going through things with a fine-tooth comb.”

You can reach Staff Writer Meg McConahey at 707-521-5204 or meg.mcconahey@pressdemocrat.com. OnTwitter @megmcconahey.

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