To address storage issues, some families choose to make charitable donations of some of their past finery.

The average person has many belongings he or she may not need. According to the Self Storage Association, there are 2.3 billion square feet designated to self-storage space in the United States, and one out of every 10 households in the country rents a unit. Many financial analysts say that the self-storage industry is essentially recession-proof. That’s because once a person moves items into storage, they’re not likely to move it out anytime soon.

Many of the items relegated to self-storage units across the nation could be gifts from years past. But rather than store items that will never see the light of day, why not help a good cause and donate such items to charity?

Make it a tradition

Families can make donating items a tradition so that it is something that everyone anticipates and looks forward to.

Much as you would decorate the home or shop for fancy clothing, you can set aside a day for sorting through infrequently used items and preparing them for donation. Doing so can teach children the benefits of generosity.

Work with an organization

There are certain organizations that gather used or new toys and other items to give to the less fortunate. Begin with churches and synagogues and inquire if they sponsor or host a collection program. Schools also may hold item swaps to help raise money for parent-teacher associations or to donate to charities.

If you cannot find an organization that serves as the middleman for donations, take it upon yourself to solicit safe houses, hospitals, veteran groups and more to see if they will accept your items.

Set limits on new gifts

Encourage family members to give back while gifting as well. While one or two new items will be appreciated, you may want to specify that donations to charities that you support, or helping to fund extracurricular activities, is your preference.

Organize storage spaces

Once clutter has been removed, use this opportunity to install new closet organizers, storage bins, shelving, and any other methods of organization that you prefer. Sort and categorize existing toys and items so that new ones can be added neatly.

Involve children in the donation process

When donating items, bring the kids along so they can see how their former toys and books will be put to use by other children who may not have the same advantages. It will serve as a good lesson and may help children walk away with a heartwarming experience.

Why hold on to all those items in storage? Unused gifts, clean clothing, furniture and toys are appreciated donations.