Where to donate toys for Christmas: 10 charities looking for donations this festive season

Child playing with toys on red background to show where to donate toys for christmas

Wondering where to donate toys this Christmas? From Salvation Army to Great Ormond Street Hospital, there are loads of places where you can send toys over the festive season. 

Whether you're looking to donate an untouched toy from Christmas past or support an organisation in buying new toys this year, charities are always looking for generous donations. And while many of them have strict Covid-19 procedures in place currently that mean they can only accept monetary donations, there are some that are still happy to accept in-person toy deliveries or gifts via post.

Some have even set-up an online gift-buying system to make the whole process easier, giving you the chance to shop the top Christmas toys for children in need over the next month.

Where to donate toys for Christmas

1. Salvation Army

Every year, the Salvation Army run a Christmas Present Appeal in churches and centres across the UK. They collect new, unwrapped toys and gifts, wrap them up and donate them to children who may not otherwise get a Christmas present.

The Salvation Army also have a helpful list of presents you can give on their website:

  • 0-3 years: dolls, teddy bears, cot mobiles, baby clothes, bath toys, CDs of suitable music and nursery rhymes, puzzles
  • 3-5 years: cars, lorries, DVDs and CDs (music and nursery rhymes), colouring sets, pencils, crayons, books, puzzles, dolls and action figures
  • 5-9: CDs & family friendly DVDs, books, puzzles, wordsearch, crosswords, educational games & toys and stationery
  • 9-12: DVDs, books, t-shirts, hair accessories, gloves, scarves, hats, games and toys
  • 13-16: make-up and toiletries (please try to ensure non-allergic ingredients if possible), books, gloves, scarves, hats, t-shirts, hair accessories and gift vouchers

But while many centres are still accepting in-person donations, others are asking for JustGiving donations to buy toys with this year due to Covid-19 concerns.

Where: Locations across the UKHow to donate: To find out how to donate to your local appeal, visit the webpage.

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2. Giving Tree via Kids Out

Working in collaboration with Women's Aid among other partner charities, Kids Out helps children who have had to leave their homes and stay in a refuge due to domestic abuse.

Whether you are an individual or someone looking to get your business involved with the charity, you can donate a toy to the Giving Tree via the Kids Out website. Due to Covid-19, you can't drop off any gifts yourself, but you can choose from a pre-selected list, pay online, and the charity provides the gift to a child over Christmas.

All the gifts on the list are the ones most requested by children in a refuge this year. They include popular toys - like LEGO sets, Disney Princess dolls and footballs - ranging from £10 to just over £20.

Location: Various locations across the UKHow to donate: Shop online for gifts via the Kids Out website and for more information, check out their homepage.

3. Action for Children

Action for Children offers practical and emotional care and support for vulnerable children living across the UK. Before coronavirus, there were four million children living in poverty and that number is even higher now. As well as stepping in to help children, young people and families day-to-day, the charity works to teach important life skills to children and help them build resilience, alongside actively campaigning in government.

With the Secret Santa option, the charity says, you can make a gift donation towards a child that would otherwise go without food, warmth or love this Christmas. The donation choices don't include toys but, for example, they do have the option to give kids a fun activity for £10 per month.

Location: Various locations across the UK How to donate: Choose a gift for a vulnerable child, pay online and complete your order via the website.

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4. Great Ormond Street Hospital

Located in the Bloomsbury area of London, Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) treats approximately 619 children with seriously complex illnesses every day. As well as pioneering medical breakthroughs, they support the families of children going through these life-saving treatments.

While GOSH say that the best gift you can give them is a monetary donation, as they are dependant on charitable support, you can donate toys and games to the hospital as well this Christmas.

This is what you can donate to Great Ormond Street Hospital:

  • For kids: board and card games, jigsaw puzzles, arts and crafts kits, toy cars and planes, construction toys like LEGO and Playmobil, dolls.
  • Babies: mobiles and musical mobiles, jigsaws, toys to stimulate the senses, developmental toys, musical toys like rattles.
  • Teenagers: Nail art kits, stationary sets, jewellery making kits, toiletries (like body spray, hair & body wash, bath bombs), games.

The hospital has also said that as well as toys and games, they'll be happy to accept pyjamas, blankets, duvet sets, books, colouring sets and headphones. They can't accept any used to second-hand items, including toys and games, any knitted clothes, large mechanical or motorised toys and any used magazines.

Any gifts that you donate this Christmas will be distributed across the wards and different areas of the hospital, the guidance also says, as and where they are needed.

Importantly, due to Covid-19 and the increased risk of infection, you cannot delivery any donations in person.

Location: LondonHow to donate: Any toy and game gifts will go through the hospital's Play Team, to arrange a donation email (giftsinkind@gosh.org). You can also call 020 3841 3841. For more information, visit their website.

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5. British Heart Foundation

You can donate unwanted, new gifts or second-hand toys at your local British Heart Foundation store. Found on most high streets in the UK, proceeds from the British Heart Foundation's charity shops go towards funding the charity's life-saving work.

You can also boost the donation itself by 25% if you sign up to Gift Aid.

Location: Various locations across the UK. How to donate: Drop off your second-hand toys at your local charity shop during open hours. Find yours via the BHF website here.

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6. The TOY Project

Founded in 2013, the TOY Project was founded to balance out the inequalities between the children that have and the children that don't. What started as a part-time endeavour is now a full-time operation that sets out to help children around the country, from those affected by the Grenfell disaster in 2017 to families dealing with the impact of Covid-19 today.

As well facilitating donation drives for projects, the organisation also has a pop-up shop in Archway, London, where local children and families can both donate toys and buy them.

If you live in London, this is where you can deliver your toys this Christmas. The TOY Project are currently looking for:

  • Games and puzzles
  • Wooden toys
  • Character figures, such as superheroes
  • LEGO, Duplo, Playmobil, Sylvanian Families, even if sets are incomplete or unboxed.
  • Construction toys, like Meccano or Knex
  • Children's books, both fiction and non-fiction
  • Children's dressing up costumes and accessories
  • Toy animals and dinosaurs
  • Baby toys
  • Dolls and toy babies, plus accessories, including Barbie and Bratz
  • Toy kitchens and play food
  • Children's bicycles, scooters and other ride-on toys
  • Vintage and collectable toys

In all cases, toys and other donations must be clean and in good, working order. It's important that jigsaw puzzles and other board games have all their pieces as well.

The store also ask that, if possible, donations can be in bags or boxes that you don't mind leaving with them. It won't always be possible for the store to process the donations as soon as you arrive.

Location: London How to donate: Call the shop on 0207 503 9590 to arrange a time and date to drop off your donations. For more information, visit their website.

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7. The Toy Appeal

The Toy Appeal is a great way to donate if you live in the North West. Founded in 2013 by Dee and Chris Drake, The Toy Appeal provides a sack of toys to children aged between 0 and 17 years living in poverty at Christmas.

While normally you'd be able to drop off your donations at one of the many drop-off points, due to Covid-19, that isn't happening this year. Instead, The Toy Appeal have asked for donations to their JustGiving page. The team will then use the money to create 8-present sacks for the over 9000 children set to receive one in 2021.

Location: North West England How to donate: Donate to the project with JustGiving, via their website.

8. Little Village

Little Village is just like a local food bank, but for clothes, toys and equipment for babies and children - up to the age of 5.

They accept donations of pre-loved items, however, they must be in excellent condition as they are passed onto families who need support. For example, puzzles and games must be complete and in working condition. If you're donating a puzzle, tape the box shut and put a note on it to say that it's a complete set. If it's a wooden puzzle, tape the pieces to the base board to prevent them moving around too much.

Toys also have to be in good, working order with no missing pieces. Any sets that come with loose pieces need to be kept together in a bag.

Location: London, with hubs in Camden, Wandsworth, Southwark and Brent. How to donate: Sign up to a donation session through the website.

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9. Scratch

Scratch is a charity work to relieve the effects of hardship, disadvantage and poverty for those living in Southhampton and the surrounding areas.

Their annual Christmas Complete project aims to make sure that no child goes without presents to open on Christmas Day.

The charity are currently looking for:

  • Age relevant toys (up to 17-years-old)
  • Toiletries
  • Stationary
  • Makeup, suitable for teenagers
  • Games and puzzles, especially those suitable for older children
  • Arts, crafts and colouring sets
  • Sweets and chocolate with a sell-by-date of at least 31/01/2022
  • Sellotape and Christmas wrapping paper
  • Large carrier bags
  • Large cardboard boxes
  • Batteries in various sizes

The charity are willing to accept second-hand toys but they must be in excellent condition.

New toys, gifts and wrapping paper can be donated up to December 15 while second-hand items can be donated only up to December 3 2021.

If you don't live in the area and you still want to donate to Scratch, you can also buy items via the charity's Amazon wish-list.

Location:Southampton, South EnglandHow to donate: Find out everything you need to know about Scratch on the organisation's website.

10. Young Planet

For more direct giving in your community, try Young Planet. It's not a charity, rather a tech-for-good app, you can list toys for donation (and get items on there yourself).

Working to reduce landfill waste, Young Planet allows you to offer unwanted toys, gifts, games and essential children's items on a virtual noticeboard in your local area. Be it the seemingly never-ending mountain of LEGO that you've had in the garage for years or new and unwanted toys from lockdown, you can offer up anything and everything on the app. The more you give, the more you're likely to receive as well.

Someone in the area will then contact you via the app to come and collect the items.

Location: Across the UKHow to donate: List your unwanted items on the Young Planet app, which is available to download from your app store.

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Where to donate second-hand toys for Christmas

If you're looking to donate second-hand toys ahead of Christmas, these are the charities that are happy to accept them:

  • Scratch, Southampton
  • The TOY Project, London
  • Little Village, London
  • Families in your community via Young Planet
  • Charity shops in your local area, such as British Heart Foundation
  • Hospitals
  • Doctors' offices
  • Nurseries
  • Shelters
  • Religious centres

In all cases, toys must be in excellent condition.

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Grace Walsh
Features Writer

Grace Walsh is a Features Writer for Goodto.com, covering breaking news health stories during the Covid-19 pandemic as well as lifestyle and entertainment topics.  She has worked in media since graduating from the University of Warwick in 2019 with a degree in Classical Civilisation and a year spent abroad in Italy. It was here that Grace caught the bug for journalism, after becoming involved in the university’s student newspaper and radio station.