Kids and adults alike love stuffed animals, which is why so many of them are sold every single year all over the world. Stuffed animals are usually teddy bears but in fact can be any other type of animal as well.
Stuffed animals come in all shapes, sizes, and colors but if your kids are getting older and you find that you have dozens of them (or more) taking up space in your house, the good news is that there are ways to get rid of at least some of them.
You Don’t Have to Throw Them Out
First of all, people don’t normally want to throw stuffed animals in the trash because they almost become members of your family after a while. But when you have too many of them cluttering up your home and wish to get rid of them, there are easy steps that you can take to do so and these include both crafty and non-crafty ways!
If you care about the environment and don’t want to throw your stuffed animals in the trash, good for you! Although you might draw a blank when thinking about things that you can do with these toys, there really are some interesting possibilities.
First of all, if you happen to have stuffed animals that contain batteries, the first thing that you should do is recycle the batteries. Depending on the type of batteries you have, there are resources available to help you take them to the right location.
For example, if you have AA, AAA, 9-volt, C or D batteries, there are stores you can bring them to that will recycle them for you. Batteries Plus is one such location. All that you do is bring them there and they do the rest. If you have recyclable batteries, try contacting a place such as Best Buy that will usually recycle them for you free of charge.
Allowing Them to Be Appreciated Once Again
If you want to get rid of old stuffed animals but they’re still in pretty good shape, you can donate them to a pet shelter. The animals will love them and most of these facilities are more than happy to take them off your hands. You can also choose a women’s shelter, which normally also houses children who would love to be comforted by a stuffed animal.
Although it’s sad to think about animals or children who are going through a rough time, it should bring you some satisfaction to know that in some small way, you are helping them and comforting them at a time when they need it most.
There is also an organization called Stuffed Animals for Emergencies, or SAFE, that donates stuffed animals to children in crisis situations. They have several chapters across the country and can be found at www.stuffedanimalsforemergencies.org. If you do your due diligence, you can easily find similar organizations that are more than happy to accept your donations.
In addition, your local fire station, police station, or children’s services organization usually accepts stuffed animal donations. All three of these organizations come across kids who are in crisis situations or who are just needy, all of whom would greatly appreciate a fuzzy new friend to love.
Reusing Your Stuffed Animals
If you’re crafty, there are many things that you can do to reuse your stuffed animals and make them into something else. This is an especially good idea if your child has a favorite stuffed animal that he or she has carried around for years; therefore, you can’t bear to part with it entirely.
For starters, you can use the material in the stuffed animal and make it into a pillow. Yes, you have to have some sewing skills to accomplish this feat but most of it actually involves very simple stitches that nearly anyone can do. In fact, there are numerous “patterns” online that will show you how to do this easily.
You can also make furniture out of your old stuffed animals. That’s right — furniture. On Martha Stewart’s website, there is a pattern for a chair that you can make out of material from old stuffed animals and it is nothing short of amazing.
And while we’re on the subject of making household items from your old stuffed animals, how about making a rug out of these toys? You can even put it in your child’s room so that he or she can be reminded of the beloved stuffed animals that he or she used to carry around. We can’t help but think that this would also be a great gift to give a child who is all grown up now and ready to leave the nest!
Other items that you can make with old stuffed animals include beanbags, cushions, purses, blankets, and backpacks, to name a few. These and many other patterns can be found all over the Internet so it should be simple to find something you love and that you can’t wait to try.
One interesting idea is to take just the head of the stuffed animal and mount it on a small piece of wood to hang on the wall, sort of the way that hunters decide to show off their latest kill. Only with stuffed animals, it actually turns out to be very cute indeed.
Using Just Part of the Toy
Of course, if you’re not crafty or you’re just interested in recycling part of the toy, that’s all right too. Let’s face it; the more you can keep out of the landfills, the better off we all are. You can take the stuffing out of a stuffed animal and reuse it in various arts and crafts projects; these can include stuffing for blankets, pillows, and even other newer stuffed animals.
You can also use the ears, eyes, and even the clothing and the limbs of your older stuffed animal to either repair another toy or to make a brand-new stuffed animal altogether, especially if you decide to use something from a few different stuffed animals.
Here’s another useful tip for you: if you’re going to reuse the stuffed animal in any way, even if you only use parts of it, you’ll need to get rid of any dust mites first. To do this, simply place the stuffed animal in either a freezer bag or a garbage bag and then place it in the freezer for 24 hours. If you’re doing this with more than one stuffed animal, make sure that each toy has its own bag.
If the tag on the stuffed animal says that you can wash it, make sure that you put it in a pillowcase first and close it off at the end either by tying it or wrapping a rubber band around it. Even if the instructions don’t say “wash with delicates,” it is still best to treat stuffed animals with care. Wrapping it in a pillowcase protects the stuffed animal while still allowing it to get very clean.
If the tag on the stuffed animal says “spot clean only,” mix up one part water to one part washing powder and blot each stain on the toy with a dry cloth. It may not work for all stains but it should eliminate most of them.
The reason why we mention these cleaning methods is because regardless of what you plan to do with your old stuffed animals, cleaning them is something that you need to do first. Whether you’re planning to donate the toys or reuse them and turn them into something else, it’s just better to start with a clean stuffed animal.
When you think about it, there are tons of things that you can do with old stuffed animals, most of which center around either making them into something else or donating them so that other children can get some enjoyment out of them. If you donate them, here are a few organizations you can check out that accept old stuffed animals in their work:
- Big Brothers/Big Sisters
- Catholic Charities
- Habitat for Humanity
- Loving Hugs
- St. Vincent de Paul
- The Humane Society
- The Ronald McDonald House
- The Salvation Army
- Toys for Tots
- Vietnam Veterans Association
If you’d rather opt for a local organization, check with area churches, preschools, and any organization that resells items and then donates the money to charity, such as Goodwill. Fortunately, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to find these organizations because unfortunately, the need to help people is always present.
Even national organizations, however, have local chapters and give the money to local residents so you don’t have to feel hesitant about donating your stuffed animals to a nationally known organization.
Stuffed animals are usually kept for years or even decades but when you finally decide that you want to do something else with them so they aren’t overpowering your home, the good news is that it is simple to do so. A little online research is all it takes to come up with a solution that’s right for you and it will make you feel good to know that you didn’t just throw them away.