A. Of course there’s always the curb or alley, but when we’re purging undamaged, decent-quality things (and don’t have the energy for craigslist or eBay), we’d rather not take that route. Here are some places that will put your donations or the proceeds from them to good use, or make you a little profit:
Pianos: The People’s Music School (931 W. Eastwood Ave., 773-784-7032, peoplesmusicschool.org), a free music school for students age 5 to adult; keeps a list of students who need pianos (and other instruments) and matches students with donors. The student is responsible for moving costs.
Mattresses: Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly (5414B W. Roosevelt Rd., 773-921-3200, homeseniors.org), which helps low-income seniors remain independent, needs beds and sleeper sofas and provides free pickup. H.O.M.E. will turn away items that are in poor condition; the rule of thumb is that if you don’t want it because it’s dirty or broken, they don’t want it, either.
Southwest Chicago Pads (3121 W. 71st St., 773-737-7070, swchicagopads.org) provides help for the homeless. They accept donations of mattresses but do not pick up. Please call before you come.
The Ark Thrift Shop (3345 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-248-1117, 1302 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-862-5011, arkchicago.org) benefits the underprivileged in the Jewish community. They accept only mattress and box-spring sets, and there must be no tears or stains on the top mattress. They will pick up.
Books: Little City Used Book Sale (847-221-7856, littlecity.org). Little City, an organization that provides help for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, has taken over the late, great Brandeis Book Sale. If you have more than 150 books to donate, they will pick up. Otherwise there are drop-off locations in the north suburbs where you can bring your books. The rules: no damaged books, no law books, no romance novels, no magazines. The sale is in early June; books are accepted till mid-May. Call or check the Web site for more details.
Local public libraries often hold used-book sales to benefit their facilities. Check with your neighborhood branch.
Powell’s Books (1501 E. 57th St., 773-955-7780, 2850 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-248-1444; powellschicago.com). Powell’s will buy your books for 10 to 15 percent of the original price, if they buy your books at all. Call before going to make sure a buyer is on duty.
Clothes: The Bottomless Closet (445 N. Wells St., 312-527-9664, bottomlesscloset.org) supplies women on assistance and working-poor women with appropriate clothes for job interviews. They accept donations of business and professional clothes at a drive-through drop-off point from 9 a.m. to noon on the second Saturday of every month except September and January. Volunteers will take the clothes out of your car and hand you a tax receipt.
Fine china, objets d’art: Consigning pieces to an auction house will add excitement to your spring cleaning. Whether you have a set of Limoges for 24 or a single pottery vase, Leslie Hindman Auctioneers (1338 W. Lake St., 312-280-1212, lesliehindman.com) is interested. You can send in photos of your items or make an appointment to bring them to the auction house. If necessary, the experts will come out to see your stuff. Appraisals are free. If your item doesn’t sell, you can decide if you want to reconsign it or take it back. The auction house handles furniture, fine and decorative arts, books, silver, jewelry, and more. Susanin’s (900 S. Clinton St., 312-832-9800, susanins.com) is another auction house that wants to sell your stuff. You can bring up to three items for free appraisal on Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to noon—no appointment necessary. If your stuff doesn’t sell, it will be returned to you or donated to charity on your behalf. Susanin’s handles furniture, decorative arts, fine art, jewelry, silver, textiles, and collectibles.
All of the above (except mattresses): Brown Elephant resale shops (3651 N. Halsted St., 773-549-5943; 5404 N. Clark St., 773-271-9382; 217 Harrison St., Oak Park, 708-445-0612; howardbrown.org) benefit the Howard Brown Health Center, which promotes the well-being of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons. They offer free pick-up service for furniture and will even pick up random items if you have at least five bagfuls. Call to make an appointment after checking their Web site for details on what they accept. Of course, you can also bring stuff in yourself. Blank tax receipts are on the counter.
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