Spotlight on Rummage:
What to Donate—And What Not To

Hope Poor surrounded by some of her favorite rummage finds: a painting, Tiffany’s champagne flutes, safari hat, jewelry, and blouse.

Hope Poor surrounded by some of her favorite rummage finds: a painting, Tiffany’s champagne flutes, safari hat, jewelry, and blouse.

You’ve heard enough reminders about Rummage that you’re ready to gather stuff to donate. You know that donating will produce needed revenue for deserving social service agencies. And besides, your closets, basement, attic, and garage are clogged with way too much stuff.

But what does Rummage really want and need? And what would Rummage just as soon you throw away or donate somewhere else?

The short answer is that anything that’s in excellent condition that you’d be willing to pay a good amount of money for, Rummage would definitely love.

There are some items that are even more highly desired by Rummage than others, because they’re expensive and thus earn lots of money in a single sale—things like antiques, furniture, furs, fine collectibles, designer clothing, and bicycles, said Hope Poor. Hope is one of three top Rummage coordinators this year, along with Katie Nahrwold and Cris Guthrie.

(Spotlight on Rummage will feature more guidance on donating furniture in a later article.)

Also highly desired are brand new items (that are easy to re-gift), golf clubs, bike buggies and jogging strollers, exercise equipment, sporting goods, vintage items, artwork, frames, mirrors, china and glassware, jewelry, rugs, and relatively new electronics, among many other things.

But it’s not just high-priced items Rummage wants. There’s a near-infinite demand for decent-quality clothing and coats of all types—for men, women, girls, boys, and infants. The more current and fashionable, the better, Hope emphasizes.

The electronics department loves to get working and relatively new digital TVs, musical instruments, cameras, printers, computers, monitors, laptops, phones, movie cameras, radios, speakers, sound systems, fans, shavers, flashlights, clocks and blank DVDs. Things that come with their instructions or original packaging are particularly prized, she said.

The Gurus of Electronics: Suzy Andrews, Bob Cannon, and Ray Schooley.

The Gurus of Electronics: Suzy Andrews, Bob Cannon, and Ray Schooley.

Suzy Andrews, electronics department chair, suggests donating even those electronic items you might think are worthless—just so long as they are in working order and have their cords and other parts. Some of these “vintage” items turn out to be “hidden gems” desired by collectors who frequent the sale, she said.

Collectors also often snap up even old video game systems, VHS and 8-track players and very old film cameras, and ship to shore radios. Miscellaneous electronic cords and plugs are even welcome, she said.

This just scratches the surface of the items Rummage welcomes. The list of what Rummage takes is long—from decorative accessories, linens and housewares to books, jewelry, luggage, garden equipment and shoes to toys, games, puzzles, and stuffed animals.

So are there things Rummage doesn’t want? Just ask Joby Berman, whose Central Sorting crew has the massive job of receiving, processing, and categorizing all donations, sending them to the appropriate rummage department.

The Master Sorters of Central Sorting: Anne Whittlesey, Joby Berman, Sharon Smarsh and Mary McWilliams.

The Master Sorters of Central Sorting: Anne Whittlesey, Joby Berman, Sharon Smarsh and Mary McWilliams.

The first rule of thumb is don’t bother donating anything that is broken, chipped, cracked or not in working condition; anything with holes, tears, stains, signi­ficant wear; or anything with missing or non-functioning parts or pieces. They take up scarce space and time and rummage workers will just have to throw or give them away.

Rummage also can’t take hangers; baby cribs, car seats or high chairs; carpet remnants or unbound pieces, encyclopedias, magazines, textbooks, VHS tapes, organs, garage sale leftovers and rejects, large household appliances, mattresses and sofa beds, large tube TVs, non-cable-ready televisions and sharp knives or weapon-like objects.

Donations will be accepted at the Warwick manse (at 417 Warwick) on weekdays from 9 to 3 and weekends from 9 to noon from June 9 to July 5 (with no donations accepted Sundays or July 4). For more information about donating and for information about getting help with large items, go to drop-off-instructions.