Food pantries and food banks see a sharp increase in need at the holidays, and they are grateful for cash donations, donations of traditional holiday non-perishable food items, and foods that are needed year-round. Many organizations that accept food donations also accept donations of non-food necessities, including toiletries, paper goods and cleaning supplies.

Before you donate non-food items to a specific organization, contact the group and make sure they accept and need your item.

Here's a list of non-food items that many families are in need of:


  • toothpaste
  • toothbrushes
  • dental floss
  • deodorant
  • feminine hygiene products, including maxi pads, tampons and feminine wipes
  • bar soap
  • liquid hand soap
  • shampoo/conditioner
  • shaving cream
  • disposable razors

Paper products

  • toilet paper
  • tissues
  • napkins
  • paper towels

Cleaning products

  • laundry detergent
  • dish soap
  • multi-purpose cleaners
  • disinfectant wipes
  • new, clean rags

Baby items

  • diapers
  • wipes
  • diaper rash cream

To find a food bank near you that accepts donations, or to find a food bank if you are in need, visit Feeding America.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.