This document was written for our Gift Coordinator (GC) volunteers, to answer their frequently asked questions about the ‘Collect and Prepare Donations’ stage in our process.
When will I Start Receiving Donations?
The answer to this question depends on many factors. It is possible a donor will drop off donations on the same day we add your location to our Drop Spot map, or it could take several months. Urban locations tend to receive donations sooner than rural ones, and locations that are near major traffic routes also see more donations. If your location is not receiving many donations, read our document ‘Promote YCSAB’ to find ways to advertise your location.
Where do YCSAB Gift Coordinators get Donations from?
Here are several ways you will get donations:
Donors will find your delivery address and instructions on our Drop Spot map and either make arrangements with you if you require advance notice, or simply drop off items to your location unannounced if you do not require advance notice.Some donors may ask you to pick up their donation, even though we don’t advertise this service. It is not your responsibility to pick up donations from donors and you are welcome to say no, unless you genuinely want to. If you do say no, then we would ask that you also remind the donor that we are a volunteer run project with limited resources, so if they are available to drop off that we would be grateful. If they cannot drop off then you are welcome to ask them what they are donating in order to assess whether it is worth your and our time to find a Delivery Coordinator to pick up their donation. If it is a worthwhile donation, then please post in the ‘YCSAB Volunteers’ FB group to request a Delivery Coordinators help.If you want to view your location and information on our map, visit us on Facebook and look for the post pinned to the top of our page’s wall, or visit our ‘How and Where to Donate’.
From YCSAB Drop Spot Volunteers:
If you live near, or on a convenient route for our Drop Spot volunteers, you may receive more donations than our other Gift Coordinators (GC). A Drop Spot volunteer’s role is to collect donations at their business or community group. Once the Drop Spot’s donation bin is full, they drop off their items to the most convenient GC by either doing it themselves or by asking our Delivery Coordinators (DelCo) to pick up from them, who will then deliver the items to a GC on their behalf.
From the Volunteer Inventory:
If you have accepted a match and you need an item that hasn’t been donated to your location, you are welcome to use the search feature in our Volunteer Inventory to try to locate it. If your search finds the item you need, please contact the volunteer who has it to make a plan to get the item. If both you and the volunteer are not conveniently able to meet each other, and the item is valuable enough to make it worth a Delivery Coordinator’s time and resources, then please request the help of one by posting in the Facebook group ‘YCSAB Volunteers’.Our Volunteer Inventory is found in our “Volunteer Resources” menu. Choose “Volunteer Inventory” and within that page are the instructions and link to get into the inventory. If you have any difficulty logging in to or using the Volunteer Inventory, please contact our Tech Analyst John at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What Condition will Donations Arrive in?
Items being donated by individual donors will range from having been in storage for a few years, to brand new items with tags still on them. Most will arrive in boxes or bags, and for the most part they will be in great condition.
Items being delivered from Business or Community Group Drop Spots will not be sorted or assessed.
Donations arriving from YCSAB Volunteers have a higher chance of arriving evaluated, and sorted, and if you are really lucky, perhaps the clothing has been made into mini-sets.
Regardless of whether clothing or bedding looks washed and clean, all donations will need go through a rinse cycle with no soap, just prior to packing into a gift. If you are not accepting a match to make a gift then you will not need to wash clothes upon receipt.
Are there any Special Ways to Acknowledge a Donor’s Contribution?
Occasionally we form a connection with a donor, or feel that the size of the donation is worthy of a more formal acknowledgement. If you feel inspired to write and mail a thank card or email an E-card using your YCSAB email address please go for it!
Paper thank you cards are available for pick up at E.D. Pamela’s home at 31 Woodview Bay (or it is possible a volunteer near you may have one you can pick up) or to be mailed to you from Pamela. Or you are welcome to make your own as well.
To learn more about our E-Card here and the image file YCSAB_ECARD_600.jpg can be found in the Files section of YCSAB Volunteers Facebook group.
Another way to say thanks is to contact our Social Media Administrator Ellen Lyon with any info you’d like to share about the donation (possibly a photo of the donation and/or a story about the experience etc.), with the goal of publicly thanking the donor. Only include the donors name in your email to Ellen if you get the donor’s permission. Contact Ellen at email@example.com.
My First Donation Just Arrived on my Doorstep. What do I do First?
Besides doing a little happy dance, please do a quick visual inspection of the donation before bringing it into your home. Even though we’ve never had a confirmed case of bed bugs in our 6+ year history, it is wise to inspect all donations and to be educated about the potential risk that comes from receiving donations from people we don’t know.
What Steps is YCSAB taking to Reduce the Risk of Volunteers and/or Gift Applicants getting Bed Bugs?Our What to Donate page asks for donors to disclose if the donor home has recently had or does have bedbugs, saying, “To protect our gift applicants and volunteers, we respectfully encourage people who have, or recently had bed bugs, to disclose this at the time of donation.”
Donors won’t intentionally pass along contaminated items, but if you are concerned about this possibility for some reason, do a visual check for the bugs before you place the donation in your home or vehicle. Look for live or dead bugs or the skins they can leave behind when they are molting. To learn more about what they look like, google ‘bed bugs images’. If you find something in a donation, contact Erica our Volunteer Coordinator and just dispose of the items in the nearest garbage.
Learn about bed bugs and how they are spread. It is highly unlikely for you to pick up bed bugs from a donor’s home since they like non-moving, quiet places to hide. “Bed bugs do not cling to people but they can accidentally get caught up in our belongings like a purse.” If you are worried about this, don’t bring personal items like a purse into donor or Gift Applicant’s homes with you.
Once I Confirm the Donations are Acceptable to Bring into my Home, where should I Store my Donations?
Storage of donations should be short term since the goal is to assess the items, sort the donations and then either pass them along to another Gift Coordinator or ‘Make One Gift’ volunteer who needs them for a gift, or collect enough until you can make a gift with them yourself.
If you are temporarily storing donations, be mindful of where you store them. A clean, dry area that isn’t exposed to offensive odours or pet hair are best. Garages that are used for stinky jobs (oil changes, to store garbage or that have a mould/mildew problem) are not adequate. Smokey homes are also not ok. It is best to store items in a sealed bin if outdoors or in the garage or basement, or if you have pet hair in your home. Use your best judgement as you know your space the best.
What Baby Items does YCSAB Accept?
We make and deliver gifts to help with the first year of the baby’s life. If you are trying to remember what we accept, ask yourself, ‘will a baby need this in their first year’?
Here are some ideas for the most needed items we accept:
- Once Loved or New Baby Clothing in sizes preemie to 18 months (0 – 18 months) e.g.: tops, bottoms, special outfits, onesies, sleepers, outerwear, footwear, seasonal items (bathing suits, snowsuits, mitts, toques, hats) etc.
- Breastfeeding Items e.g.: nursing pads, bras, breast pumps, nursing pillows etc.
- Diapering Items e.g.: disposable diapers (open packs are ok if they are clean and in a Ziploc-style bag), cloth diapers, wipes, change pads, diaper bags, cloth diaper accessories, etc.
- Bath/Hygiene Items e.g.: natural unscented baby soaps, diaper creams, bath tubs, bath toys, wash cloths, menstrual pads for postpartum period etc.
- Sleep Items e.g.: receiving blankets, crib mattresses and bedding, baby monitors, co-sleepers etc.
- Feeding Items e.g.: bibs, bottles, highchairs, cutlery, plates/bowls, sippy cups, food processors, baby food etc.
- Baby Carriers e.g: slings, wraps, soft structured, mei tai, etc.
- Baby Gear e.g.: bouncy chairs, exersaucers, swings, activity play mats, baby toys and books etc. Please note, we only accept brand new stuffed animals with tags on.
- Baby Furniture e.g.: bassinets, cribs, playpens, change tables, rocking chairs, dressers. Please note that in order for a crib to be accepted it must include information that identifies the manufacturer, model number, date of manufacture, original hardware and assembly instructions- either printed or online version. No drop-side cribs please. Cribs made before September 1986 do not meet current safety standards and are illegal to sell under the law.
- Strollers e.g.: umbrella strollers, jogging strollers, single/double strollers. Please note that strollers made before 1985 may not meet current safety standards, and will not be accepted. Strollers must come with a lap belt, or safety harness that is solidly attached to the seat or frame. Strollers must be accompanied by information that identifies the manufacturer, model number, and the date of manufacture.
- Car Seats/Accessories e.g.: covers, mirrors, toys etc. Car seats must be brand new in the box or with tags, or the donor has contacted us to provide the car seat history and expiration date.
- Presents Suitable for ‘Big-Sibling’ Gifts: e.g.: quality books and toys, activities, art supplies, etc. Most big sibling gifts are needed for 2-17 year olds.
What Items are not Appropriate to put into Gifts?
If we do accept the donations you have been given, then ask yourself, ‘Would I be happy to receive an item of this quality in a gift?’ and let that also guide you. Here are items that are not appropriate. If you find one of these items in a donation, place it in a plastic bag labelled ‘thrift store’ for donation to the used store of your choice.
Please don’t include:
- Items that have offensive stains. Tiny stains on discreet locations or on high value items are OK.
- Items that have inappropriate logos such as ‘Lock up your Daughters’ ‘Born to Shop’ or clothing that refers to Dads unless you know the Dad is involved in the baby’s life. We would hate to give a single mom going through a bad break up a onesie that says, ‘My Daddy Rocks’. Please also be sensitive to religious giftware or holiday items, as not all families have christenings or celebrate Christmas for example, so unless a family gives an indication which holiday or religion is important to them please avoid giving those items.
- Clothing that smells of smoke, mildew etc. that doesn’t improve when washed.
- Items saturated with pet hair that are unlikely to be removed with washing or are too many to manually remove.
- Parenting books.
- Car seats, unless someone on our team has confirmed an accident free history and that the seat is not expired.
- Cribs made before September 1986 and those that do not meet current safety standards. More info can be found at Health Canada’s website. We don’t accept homemade cribs or cribs that do not come with their complete original hardware. Health Canada does not recommend bumper pads or sleep positioners.
What Should I Do with Donations That are not Suitable?
When an unsuitable item is received, we recommend that you:
- Throw away items that are gross or dangerous.
- Car seats that our team has found to be unusable due to being expired, or in an accident, or too dirty, must be destroyed before leaving in your garbage bin or dumpster, or brought to MPI for disposal. If the car seat isn’t expired but you haven’t been able to confirm an accident-free car seat history with the donor, then you are welcome to drop it off at a charity of your choice and they will assess its safety there. Please don’t donate it to a thrift store on behalf of YCSAB as we don’t know the history of the seat and we don’t want to be held liable.
- You can directly contact places like Centre Flavie Laurent, Big Brother and Big Sister, or The Diabetes Foundation, and ask them to pick up your donations.
- Drop off items at a thrift store of your choosing. Even stained items can be donated back to thrift stores in a bag/box marked ‘Stained.’ We have been told they recycle the fibres or sell them as rags.
What should I do with Clothing sized 18 Months and Up?
Even though we don’t request sizes larger than 18 months, it is quite common for us to receive donations from preemie sizes all the way into the teen sizes. If you receive items in sizes 18 months and up, you can do one of three things:
- If you have a current appropriate match, you can offer them to the Gift Applicant. For example, perhaps they have a 3-year-old who would needs size 4T items that a donor dropped off to you; or,
- If you don’t want to store these items at your home waiting for an appropriate Gift Applicant, you can list them in our Volunteer Inventory (found on our website after logging in to our Volunteer Resources section) and perhaps another GC will need them).
- Donate them to a charitable organization of your choice.
If a Gift Applicant asks for clothing in sizes larger than 18 months, and you don’t have any in stock, it is ok to tell them you don’t have any available. Clothing from 18m+ is not a standard part of our gifts, so there is no need to seek out larger sizes to complete your gift. If you do include clothing 18m+ you can count it as one of the three other baby items (if the clothes are for the new baby) or as part of/all of the big sibling gift (if the clothes are for the sibling).
Should I Clean Donations before Including them in a Gift?
Yes please. We don’t expect volunteers to go to heroic efforts to clean items and we would never expect you to scrub stains or spend 30 minutes wiping down a plastic highchair. If an item is exceptionally dirty and is unlikely to come clean with a simple wipe down with vinegar for example, then feel free to throw it out or donate it to another charity or thrift store that has paid staff to handle tough donations.
If you have accepted a match and are packing a gift for delivery, then clothing or bedding donations just need a quick rinse cycle through the washing machine (with no soap). Most clothing or bedding donations that are donated have been washed before donating so unless you see dirt on the clothes, please don’t add soap to the cycle. Leaving soap out is beneficial as it will reduce the chemicals the baby is exposed to. If anything, most clothes still have excess soap residue on them, so instead of washing fabric items with soap, wash them with no soap or no dryer sheets (this scent is often stronger due to the types of chemicals used to stick to the clothes for dryer sheets). This rinses away stronger scents while still making the items fresh and wrinkle free. Clothes should not be washed prior to making mini-sets, as the volunteer with the match will wash them right before packing the gift.
I Received a Clothing Donation. What is the Easiest way to Sort it?
Over time, every volunteer develops a sorting system that works best for them, but most sort clothing using this strategy:
- Sort into piles of boy and girl,
- then sort the girl and boy piles by sizes 0-3m, 3-6m, 6-12m and 12-18m,
- then sort by type of garment (sleepers, bottoms, tops, special outfits) and
- if there is enough stock then sort the items into mini-sets.
Here is a more in-depth description of the above strategy which most volunteers use:
Set up your Workspace:
Clear some space on the floor and dump all of your unsorted clothes into a pile to the side. If there is a large amount of clothing it can be helpful to label the empty spaces on the floor ‘girl’ and ‘boy’, so you don’t lose track, since once the piles of sorted clothes start to build, they tend to fall into each other. Or some people use large boxes or plastic totes, instead of piles on the floor, to keep the boy and girl clothes divided.
Evaluate the Item’s Appropriateness:
Pick up each item and ask yourself, ‘Does YCSAB accept this item?’ and let your response guide your next actions.
To learn if we accept an item:
- read the above question ‘What Baby Items does YCSAB Accept?’
- or visit our ‘What to Donate‘ page.
If we do accept what you have, then ask yourself, ‘Would I be happy to receive this item in a gift?’ and let your response guide you. Look for stains on the clothing. Small stains in discreet spots are ok to retain.
To learn what is appropriate, read the above question ‘What Items Are Not Appropriate to Put into Gifts?
Place appropriate items into a ‘girl’ and ‘boy’ pile:
If the item is appropriate to include in a gift, then place it in the ‘girl’ or ‘boy’ pile.
If the item is unisex, place it in the pile that is smaller, so we have a better chance of making complete mini-sets later.
Sort until you have two piles in front of you, a ‘girl’ and ‘boy’ pile and possibly a bag that has rejected items in it labelled ‘thrift store’. If you have time to sort each the boy and girl pile by size, then proceed to #4.
Sort either your Boy or Girl Pile into Piles by Size:
Place either your boy or girl pile into a garbage bag, box or tote for easy temporary storage if you think it will allow you more space.
With only one pile in front you that is just one sex, make new floor labels (or label boxes/totes), ‘0-3m’ ‘3-6m’ ‘6-12m’, ‘12-18m’ and ‘18m+’. The ‘m’ represents month. Your labels can be as simple as masking tape, labelled with a permanent marker. If you receive clothing 18m and bigger, just sort it by sex please.
At the end of all the sorting, assuming you are sorting all the way into mini-sets, you will also have two bags, one labelled ‘18m+ Girl’ and/or ‘18m+ Boy’. No mini-sets are needed for 18m+ clothes, just separate 18m+ clothes by sex. The 18m+ category can include clothing that goes all the way into adult sizes if there are that large.
To start sorting into size, from your one pile of one sex, pick up an item of clothing and check the label to see what size it is and place it in the pile with the appropriate sign/label. Occasionally the clothes don’t have tags and if this happens make an educated guess and place it in the most appropriate pile. Sizing varies across companies and therefore are often labelled in inconsistent ways. For example, Superstore’s 0-3m clothes might be closer to a Carter’s 3-6m. Let the tag decide for you.
You may find clothes that are labelled without a size range, for example, 3m and wonder if they should go in the 0-3m or 3-6m pile. Please place the item in with the lower size range to be on the safe side. If you find a label that says 6-9m, 9m, or 9-12m, place them in the 6-12m pile.
Once they are in the 0-3m, 3-6m, 6-12m, 12-18m, 18m+ piles please be sure to keep them separated, especially if you are doing the sorting over several days, so as not to mix up the items. Some volunteers place them in a reused grocery bag, tie a knot and label the handle with a piece of folded over masking tape, others tie the items together with string with a note, others use recycled boxes and write on them etc. For example, a label should look like ‘0-3m Girl’. Assuming most donations have a variety of sizes, you should now have up to 5 containers (0-3m Girl, 3-6m Girl, 6-12m Girl, 12-18m Girl, 18m+ Girl) sorted by sex and size in front of you.
Repeat Step for the Remaining Sex:
If you sorted girl clothes first, and have all the girl clothes sorted into in sealed and labelled bags/boxes of 0-3m Girl, 3-6m Girl, 6-12m Girl, 12-18m Girl, 18m+ Girl you will now move on to sorting the one large unsorted boy pile you had put away so it wouldn’t get mixed in to the girl clothes.
Once you are done sorting the boy clothes, you should have another group of up to 5 containers, 0-3m Boy, 3-6m Boy, 6-12m Boy, 12-18m Boy, 18m+ Boy, so a max of 10 containers, 5 girl, and 5 boy.
If you have enough clothing stock, please make Mini-Sets out of your donations, which simplifies the gift making process either for yourself or for another Gift Coordinator when making a gift. We have a separate document ‘Make Mini-Sets’ in the Volunteer Resources section to explain this process. Please read it before making Mini-Sets.
When Do I add Donations to the Volunteer Inventory?
If you have donations (clothing and items) that you have identified as appropriate and that are available to be used in a gift, it is best to add them to our Volunteer Inventory right away, as a Gift Coordinator may be waiting for that exact item you have in your possession.
We share donations within YCSAB so that we can build gifts as quickly as possible. For example, perhaps another GC has everything to complete their gift except a stroller. By promptly listing your donated stroller in the Volunteer Inventory, the GC will find it and contact you to make arrangements to get it so she can complete her gift and get it to the family in need asap. On the plus side, you no longer have to store a stroller in your home. Once listed in the inventory, you will continue collecting and listing donations.
This donation collection, assessment and listing process continues and you will either end up continuing to share your donations with our team, or you will have enough for a complete gift should you chose to make one, or pass them along to a Make One Gift’ (MOG) volunteer. Either way, the donations are getting into the hand of our gift recipients quickly and that is our goal. Nothing feels better than seeing our ‘Total delivered gifts’ numbers rising while our ‘Families awaiting gifts’ number shrinking!
**Thank you very much for reading our document. If you see a way to improve the document or need help understanding the information, please email our Volunteer Coordinator Erica Halmarson at firstname.lastname@example.org.