This time of year, there are a lot of donation asks out there. Charity mailings, food drives, clothing drives, toy drives. I saw a newspaper article urging me to “Cure a child's Bieber fever.” For a second I thought this was some tropical disease, but I was actually supposed to donate Justin Bieber-themed loot to the paper's toy drive.
A lot of these drives aren't even helpful. I've worked or volunteered in some of the places that receive the donations. The women's shelter had a garage overflowing with excess blankets donated by well-meaning people. The food pantry had some nourishing food but also a lot of junk like gravy mix and diet drink powders — things the donors didn't want anymore. Well, the food pantry clients didn't want them either.
If you're done with your coat and there's still use in it, go ahead and give it to a thrift store or coat drive. But if you want to help a child this winter, don't buy canned goods or Justin Bieber posters. Try a mosquito net.
See also: Charities need your money, not your random old food