How To Get Involved
How do I get involved at the Watertown Urban Mission?
Here at the Watertown Urban Mission your support is needed to help your neighbors more than 35,000 times each year. We want you to know that no matter what you give the Mission, you’re making a difference for your community.
Three types of Generosity are vital to the success of your Mission: Volunteer Time, Item Donations, and Financial Gifts.
Here’s how you can help:
Volunteer: The work we do at the Watertown Urban Mission would not be possible without the approximately 3,000 hours every month which volunteers give us, but still we could always use more help. So if you would like to roll up your sleeves, we are ready to slot you in. Every month, on the second Tuesday at 3 p.m. and fourth Thursday at 8:30 a.m., we host a Volunteer Orientation, which we require of our volunteers to ensure you know the impact your work has and how your gift of time is most beneficial.
Donate Items: Whether you’re giving items to the Thrift Store that you no longer need or you’re running a drive at your church, business or even your home to collect donations of much-needed food and supplies, your donations make a direct impact on the lives of your neighbors in need.
Sales at The Impossible Dream Thrift Store support what we do in the Mission, so every item that we are able to sell helps us to help more people every day. Items are received during business hours seven days a week in back of the building.
Every day we serve individuals and families in need who come to us for food, personal hygiene items, linens, diapers, formula and more. So your donations of food and other supplies to the Food Pantry and Critical Needs programs are critically important.
Make a Financial Contribution: Everything we do is made possible by the support of our member churches and people like you who choose to make a contribution that helps people and improves our society. Your generosity enables us to purchase bulk food at extremely low prices from the Central New York food bank, provides us the latitude to pay for critical assistance items, gives us the flexibility to keep the lights on, and empowers us to keep all of our vital assistance programs running strong.
Do I have to sign up for an orientation?
We would love it if every volunteer attended an orientation, and require any mandated volunteers to attend. Calling ahead at 782-8440 is always helpful, but not necessary. With the exception of November and December, when holidays affect the schedule for orientations, the orientation sessions are always the second Tuesday at 3 p.m. and the fourth Thursday at 8:30 a.m. In the orientation, you will be given an application to fill out and return, along with a welcome letter from your Mission’s executive director.
This will give us an idea of where to best utilize your interests, skills and talents and then we’ll put you to work helping people. Have an idea? Let us know how to get it off the ground. And thank you for just thinking about volunteering and know that we are eternally grateful to all who give of their time to help.
What jobs might you ask me to do?
The primary need here at the Mission for volunteers is in the Impossible Dream Thrift Store. So we like to direct most of our volunteers to serve here. However, we want to put you in your comfort zone because your time is valuable and we want you to get the most of your experience.
Other opportunities include help in the food pantry, with special events, conducting community projects, distribution of Food $en$e once a month, school supply, winter supply and toy distributions, and more.
How do I donate to The Impossible Dream Thrift Store?
We accept donations during store hours behind the building. Our staff and volunteers will help unload your donation and if you need a receipt, just ask and they will sign a form indicating that we did indeed receive your donation. Store hours are, in May through October, Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. From November through April, weekday hours are shortened to 6 p.m.
Do you pick up items?
Absolutely. We will gladly schedule a pick up for your furniture donations (and other items you may want to send along with it). Our truck has scheduled routes throughout the county as well, so if you can’t transport your items, just give us a call at 782-0090 and we’ll do all that we can to make sure your items find a new home and support what we do here at the Watertown Urban Mission.
What do you take at the thrift store?
Great donations include:
All dry cloth, clothing, and shoes, even if it’s got a rip, tear or stain!
Wedding and formal dresses
Couches, tables, chairs, dressers and other furniture
Toys and games
Most small sporting goods
Books, movies and bookcases
Small household appliances
Scrap metal and wire for donation
Pretty much anything you don’t need anymore, but which will be useful to someone else.
Is there anything you don’t take?
Unfortunately, we cannot take CRT or tube televisions, as they are too costly for us to dispose and flat screen technology is now more than 10 years old, making it the only technology easily sold in the store.
Similarly, large fitness equipment, such as workout stations, stationary bicycles and treadmills, as there is little demand for these in our thrift store. We will happily accept weight sets to recycle for their scrap value, if you drop them off to us.
We cannot take large appliances such as stoves and refrigerators to sell, but we can help you get them recycled.
Also because of government regulations, cribs and car seats are another item we regretfully cannot take.
Other than that, we just kindly request that donations not include broken electrical appliances, outdated computers, broken or incomplete toys and games, cracked or broken dishes and glasses. Old, gently worn, even outdated—or vintage—items can be sold easily, but when we receive items that are not sellable because they are damaged when they come to us, it costs us money to throw them away, so thank you for your consideration.
If you can bring your donation in a clear plastic bag or open containers, it makes life easier for our sorters.
For clothing, if you know that what your donating is stained or ripped, put an “X” on the bag and it will save our staff and volunteers sorting clothing the hassle of going through these clothes. They will go straight to recycling. Please do not put anything else in bags with clothing, especially not glass items.
Did I read that correctly? You want clothing, even if it’s damaged?
Yes. As long as the clothing is dry and odorless, it can be recycled. Your Mission has a great partnership with the Rescue Mission in Syracuse to recycle clothing, helping our neighbor organization and providing additional revenue for your Mission’s programs. It’s a win-win. Plus it’s good for the environment. Every year, 85 percent of unwanted clothes are thrown away, rather than donated, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. That’s about 1.4 billion tons of clothing. You can keep our landfills from filling up, help your neighbors in need and save yourself on your trash bill just by donating your clothing here!
How do I donate to the Food Pantry?
Well that’s easy. You can stop in any time during business hours (M-F 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. or 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. in July & August) and we’ll be glad to accept your donations. It’s that simple. If you don’t mind, we’d love to get your contact information for our records, which in some cases will be used to send a formal thank you letter, but that should only take a moment or two to finish. We’re extremely grateful for every donation because your generosity helps us to serve more than 500 households each month.
What if I can’t make it before 4:30, or 4 p.m. in the Summer, or can only donate on the weekend?
You can make donations in the evening or on weekends at the Impossible Dream Thrift Store! You might also be able to just drop off nonperishable foods at your church. Check with your church offices.
What can I donate to the Food Pantry?
We accept just about everything—even fresh fruits and vegetables from your garden or farm. Of course, canned vegetables, fruits and beans, canned soup, stew and chili, canned meats and tuna, juice, jam, jelly and peanut butter, just to name a few. We also accept personal items such as deodorant, shampoo, razors, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, and cleaning supplies.
Helpful tip: Expiration dates do not mean food has gone bad. Sometimes the food can be eaten well after it is expired for sale, but the standards vary. You can call us if you have any questions and save yourself a trip so that your generosity does not end up being a higher trash bill for us.
How can I make a financial contribution to the Watertown Urban Mission?
Every dollar counts and with even the smallest donations you give people food, clothing, shelter, dignity, Christian fellowship, and more. The Watertown Urban Mission is the most complete and effective means for you to stand with your neighbors to help your neighbors and make positive change in your community.
To make a contribution, you can donate online through PayPal on this Web site. Or, you can stop by any time or mail a check to the Watertown Urban Mission at 247 Factory Street, Watertown, NY 13601. If you have questions about making a financial donation or setting up a regular contribution, contact Drew or Erika at 782-8440.
To give you some idea of what we can do with your financial contributions, $25 buys formula for a mother whose WIC check didn’t cover the entire month, $50 pays for two to three essential prescriptions, $100 ensures a family of four has clothing, food and basic items they need, $250 helps to provide 1,000 balanced meals through our food pantry.
Are my donations tax deductable?
Yes, they are. Donations of all kinds, be it money or items, are tax deductable because the Watertown Urban Mission is a nonprofit 501 (c) 3. If it’s a financial contribution, we’ll send you a thank you letter with the information you need. If it’s a donation to the store and you require it, please ask one of our employees to help you fill out a handy form.
We are eternally grateful to all who give of themselves to help us help our neighbors in need.
In light of contributions made in the Mission: Possible Capital Campaign, the Executive Director’s Office recognizes the contribution of T. Urling and Mabel Walker.
The Administrative Assistant’s office recognizes the contribution of Benefit Services Group.
The Fiscal Manager’s office recognizes the contribution of Urban & Sally Hirschey.
The Development Director’s Office recognizes the contribution of John & Mary Jo Deans.
The staff break room has been dedicated in memory of former Executive Director Mary Morgan by Holy Family Church with the county’s Catholic churches.