How Old Mascara Wands Help Animal Rescues—Plus 5 Other Items to Donate

"Here are some surprising items hidden right in our homes that we can donate to help keep animals safe and healthy."

It’s easy to see the awe-inspiring efforts of animal rescues and be left wondering how you can help. After all, many of the people taking care of these animals do it for free as a passion project and operate on a tight, fundraised budget.

If you want to give help them a helping hand, you’re in luck. Many of the items sitting within our homes—things that would otherwise be sent to a landfill—can make a big difference in some animals’ lives.

From mascara wands to old blankets, find an item or two to consider donating from the list below. The animals—and planet!—will thank you for it.

6 Household Items to Donate to Animal Rescues

1. Mascara Wands

Photo: Wands for Wildlife

Mascara wands aren’t generally recyclable, so they’re often put in the trash. But don’t toss them! They have endless uses when it comes to taking care of animals.

If you’re interested in donating old wands, send them to Wands for Wildlife. The organization collects and distributes the wands to wildlife services in need. The wands are then used for animal care. They remove debris, bugs, and eggs from fur. They can also be used to gently check under fur for injuries, among other uses.

Be sure to thoroughly clean the wand with warm water and dish soap so that there’s no mascara residue before donating.

2. Bra Clasps

Photo: Carolina Waterfowl Rescue

Looking for ways to put your old bras to use? Donate them to turtle rescues! Some creative organizations—including the Wildthunder Wildlife and Animal Rehabilitation and Sanctuary (which came up with the idea) and Carolina Waterfowl Rescue—are using the metal hook clamps to help injured turtles heal.

So, how does it work? Rescue organizations glue them to their shell to help aid them in closing a crack from injury, kind of like how braces work to guide teeth into closing a gap. It’s pretty cool seeing the creative ingenuity rescuers have come up with!

3. Heating Pads

brown and white fox

A heating pad can be a great asset to animal rehab centers. Many animals need that warm and comforting heat to make it through their recovery process. Options that stay on continuously and don’t automatically turn off can be especially helpful in this circumstance.

For the animals’ health and safety, you have to be very careful choosing which heating pad to use and for how long to use it. But shelters and wildlife rehab centers should be able to discern if what you have is the right fit for their animals—just call and ask.

4. Hair, Fur, and Fleece

blonde haired woman in black top surrounded by tall plants

Did you know hair can help clean up oil spills? Our hair collects oil—that’s why we have to shampoo it so often. Organizations like Matter of Trust have initiatives to collect hair, fur, and fleece to create “hair mats” that assist in the cleanup of oil.

The next time you have a trim or are about to toss out pet fur or fleece, consider donating it instead. You can even ask your pet’s groomer to save it for you.

5. Blankets

white and gray kitten on white textile

All kinds of blankets are highly sought after at shelters and rescues. Quilts, comforters, linens, and even pillows can be items of interest. You can even knit and sew them from scrap fabric and yarn to donate as a hobby. Simply make sure that the blankets are in good condition and clean, and you’re good to go.

6. Food of All Kinds

variety of assorted-color beans

Animals eat all sorts of foods, and you’d be surprised with all of the donation possibilities. Some animals need frozen or fresh berries and greens, and others can make use of unsalted seeds and nuts.

Even unflavored Pedialyte can be used temporarily for small animals. And leftover cat and dog food your pet didn’t take to is a really important option, as many organizations even accept open or expired bags.

Ultimately, it all depends on what animals your local center is housing and what they’re in need of. Their wishlists can vary wildly, and it’s important to listen to them and ensure they’re getting what they need most—not what we think they need.

Check around with several local operations, and even consider if some online efforts that accept shipped goods are a good fit for you to work with. These animal rehabilitation centers have so many ways you can pitch in, and they’re pretty much always appreciative of any help a person has to offer.

Don’t forget: Donating your time helps in a major way, too. Also, contact your officials to let them know you support legislature that protects wildlife and the environment in which these animals live. Every small step makes a difference.


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Here are some surprising items hidden right in our homes that we can donate to help keep animals safe and healthy.

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