If you’re like me, you probably have piles of beauty and skin care products you used once or twice (or never) that sit and collect dust on a shelf. Instead of tossing them out, consider donating them to local women (and men) who need them most in shelters across the region.

Many centers need everyday care products for residents including shampoo, conditioner, soap, body wash, body lotion and deodorant, which are the most in-demand since they are used up the fastest. Some places will also accept beauty and skin care products like makeup, facial moisturizer and nail polish, as well as hair care products and tools. Pads, tampons, wipes and other feminine hygiene products are usually in high demand. I put together this list of what, where and how to pass on your new or gently used products to someone who needs them.

Note: Most of the organizations listed here also accept cleaning supplies, socks, hats and gloves, etc., but we’re just focusing on beauty and personal care today. If you have something else to donate, give them a call.

Women’s Resource Center

WRC accepts new, un-opened beauty and personal care products listed above as well as new towels, washcloths, hair dryers and gift cards. Anyone interested in donating items should call 570-346-4460 to make arrangements. 
An Angel Tree at Boscov’s, second floor, Marketplace at Steamtown, holds cards with specific WRC wish list items, which can be fulfilled up until Thursday, Dec. 20. 

Ruth’s Place Women’s Shelter

Any toiletry items, new or gently used, are accepted. Ruth’s Place also is always in need of pads and tampons. They are not accepting clothing at this time. To make a donation, call 570-822-6817 for drop-off arrangements or drop off items at rear 425 N. Pennsylvania Ave., Wilkes-Barre. For a full list of items needed, visit Ruth’s Place’s Facebook page.

Catherine McCauley Center

Personal and feminine care products are accepted as well as baby and children’s bath and care items. To make a donation, call the Catherine McAuley Center in Scranton at 570-342-1342, or the Catherine McAuley House in Plymouth at 570-779-2801.

Community Intervention Center

Hygiene and personal care products, such as new or gently used shampoo, conditioner, hair products and body wash, are the most needed items at this men’s and women’s shelter. New razors and shaving cream also are accepted as well as small donations of makeup. To donate, call 570-342-4298 or drop off at 445 N. 6th Ave., Scranton.

How to sanitize your gently used products

To be safe, you should wipe down the outside of every item with a cotton round soaked in rubbing alcohol. (No shelter specified this but it’s a Gia rule I want you to follow.) To sanitize lipstick, take a clean knife and slice off the tip. Dip the remaining tip of the lipstick into rubbing alcohol for a few seconds. Remove from alcohol and dab with a tissue. Do the same for deodorant. For eye shadow or other pressed powder products, use a tissue to rub off the top layer. Then, pour rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle and spritz the pan from at least 6 inches away.

Things to remember

Obviously, use your judgement. Don’t try to bring anything dried up or discolored or anything that smells weird. If you wouldn’t use it, don’t give it to someone else. Gently used means “gently.” DO NOT try to donate something less than half-full.

Don’t donate any gently used item with a wand like a liquid lipstick or mascara. That also goes for anything in a jar or pot you’ve already stuck your fingers in like face cream. Also, no used loofahs — those are germ farms.  

Remember to think inclusively. Certain products I use on my hair aren’t what a woman of color would use on hers. You cant give something you don’t have but, if you’re donating something new to a women’s shelter, remember to think of ALL women while you purchase. Some places on this list have men residents so you also can donate men’s grooming products.