Published on
22 December 2021

A set of false teeth, a scorpion, a slice of pizza, and a farmer’s castrating tool are just some of the strange donations to Barnardo’s charity stores this year.

The UK’s leading children's charity has around 620 stores across the UK with staff and volunteers grateful for donations – although some of them have raised a few eyebrows this year. 

Barnardo’s retail staff in St Andrew’s were shocked to receive a scorpion in a jar of formaldehyde, since donated to the university. Meanwhile in Glasgow, a handbag was donated – with a set of false teeth inside.  

Staff in Catterick were delighted to receive a quality man’s coat, only to discover a slice of pizza inside the same bag. 

In rural Kendal staff were bemused to receive a farmer’s lamb castrating tool. And someone in Worksop thought that leaving a bag of moss would help raise much-needed funds. 

Santa’s reindeers may have already enjoyed a donation in Wolverhampton as it consisted simply of several ends of carrots. And while chocolate gift boxes might be gratefully received, a tin of crab meat ‘best before 2015’ might not be a best seller in Pitlochry, Perthshire. 

Barnardo’s is sharing the weird donations received at its stores as part of an appeal for people to donate their unwanted Christmas gifts to their local Barnardo’s charity shop. If people receive a present that is unsuitable for them, and they can’t exchange it, then our stores would love to receive it as long as it is in good condition, isn’t faulty and is suitable for resale.  

Strange donations in recent years include a bag donated to our Glasgow store containing a bird which, to paraphrase the Monty Python scene, definitely wasn’t asleep. Similarly, in Warrington, a hamster’s cage was donated – unfortunately underneath the sawdust was a dead hamster.

As the song goes “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth…”. But shop workers in Rotherham were given a pot containing nine human molars. 

One bag of donated infant’s clothes contained the baby’s dried umbilical cord and belly clip.  

Bizarre health and body-related donations include: a pelvic floor exerciser (Bury St Edmunds), used pregnancy test kit (Glasgow), a packet of Viagra tablets (Rotherham), suppositories (Rotherham), a bottom wiping tool (Gravesend), a urethral catheter and urine bottle (Lincoln), a haemorrhoid cushion (Wolverhampton) and a used toilet brush (Colwyn Bay). 

In one of our London stores someone with a satirical sense of humour donated a set of four portraits of historical figures in matching frames - Mussolini, Chairman Mao, Vlad the Impaler, and Margaret Thatcher.  

Staff in Stoke on Trent were tickled by the message that accompanied some good quality men’s sports shorts which read: “Wear these at your leisure, wear with pride and pleasure, and keep them safe to treasure. Geoff. X.” 

One of the most heart-warming donations to our store in Worsley, Manchester, was a child’s drawing whiteboard on which a message had been written which read: “Thank you Barnardo’s – you helped me find my forever family.” 

The proceeds from the sale of good quality, unused Christmas gifts are a vital source of income for the charity’s work supporting vulnerable children across the UK. 

Managing Director of Barnardo’s Trading Companies, Roy Clark, said:   

“Most of us have received Christmas presents that may be of good quality and cost a fair bit - but are just not suitable for ourselves. So instead of putting them at the back of the drawer and forgetting about them – why not donate to your local Barnardo’s store? One hundred percent of the profits made in our stores go to improving the lives of the UK’s most vulnerable children and young people.” 

People can find their local Barnardo’s shop here