Top Ten Unusual Items Donated to Charity

Posted on 30 March 2023 by Charity Car

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Here at Charity Car, we've always prided ourselves in offering one of the more unusual donation methods to support charities close to your heart - turning your old wheels into vital funds for good causes. But after reading this, you'll understand why our 'alternative' Other-Ways-To-Donate accolade, suddenly seems pretty normal!

…We've been looking into some of the items people have donated to good causes over the years, or auctioned off for charity and we don't know if we're seriously impressed or just baffled!

Here's our top ten amazing (and odd) finds:

1.  Captain Kirk's Kidney Stone Makes a Home!

In 2006, after a painful operation to remove it, William Shatner sold his kidney stone to online casino Golden Palace for $25,000! The proceeds went to U.S. housing charity Habitat for Humanity. Most famous for his role as StarTrek's Captain Kirk, he apparently said: "This takes organ donors to a new height, to a new low, maybe. How much is a piece of me worth?" Quite a lot as it turns out Mr Shatner!

William Shatner's kidney stone donation chequePhoto Credit William Shatner / CC BY-SA 3.0

2.  Brussel Sprouts Make A Wish Come True!

After a family Christmas dinner discussion about the ability to sell 'anything' on ebay, magician Dan Allam decided to list two left-over sprouts… Proving his claim more than right, he made £100 for marvellous charity Make-A-Wish. Pretty ironic seeing as most people would be wishing for their Christmas dinner plate not to feature these little green fiends! But what a donation from some potential compost! We do love it when you guys Reuse and Recycle.

Brussel Sprouts Auctionned for MakeAWishPhoto Credit Dan Allam / ©SWNS.COM

3.  Fine Art Funds International Aid

From brussel sprouts to fine art - we warned you it was going to be a weird list! Oxfam has received some seriously interesting items over the years, but while most historical artefacts are knowingly donated, a rare book of 52 etchings by the 18thcentury Italian artist Giovanni Battista Piranesi was identified amongst some rather more standard donations at a local shop in Olney, Buckinghamshire. Cheffins Fine Art Auctioneers confirmed the etchings as Piranesi originals, which sold at auction in 2018 for a thrilling £30,000!

Piranesi Etchings Donated to OxfamPhoto Credit ©Cheffin Auctions/SWNS.COM

4.  Another Art Find - Marie Curie's Rembrandt?

Marie Curie charity shops have reported receiving some exceedingly strange donations over recent years, including an old toilet seat, a half-eaten Black Forest gateau, false teeth, glass eyes and even dog nappies. But their art find was not to be sniffed at! This artwork was unmistakably Rembrandt style, and while it could not be officially verified as a painting by the 17th century Dutch artist famous for his portraits, it still sold for an astounding £60,000!

Rembrandt Donated to Marie CuriePhoto Credit © Marie Curie Blog

5. Katy Perry's Trampoline Raises Crisis Funds

Apologies for the mental whiplash but we're taking you from classic artwork to a celebrity's trampoline! American superstar singer Katy Perry had some incredible stage props on her 'California Girls' tour and it was a cupcake trampoline she auctionned off to raise funds for the Japan tsunami appeal in 2011. The winning bidder paid $5,000 for the bouncy bun, but had to wait till the end of the tour to have their fun!

Katy Perry's Cupcake Trampoline Auctionned for charityPhoto Credit Katy Perry / US Weekly Magazine

6. Ventriloquist Dummy Speaks Volumes for Charity

These next three items have all been donations to the brilliant British Heart Foundation
Volunteers in the charity's shop in Headingly, Leeds, realised that it wasn't just an old puppet that had been donated, but a vintage, professional ventriloquist doll. The handmade wooden puppet ended up fetching a fabulous £670, bought by the son of a collector, after his father died, to help this important charity.

Ventriloquist Dummy Donated to BHFPhoto Credit British Heart Foundation

7. Creepy Crawlies at the British Heart Foundation

The second strange item we heard had been donated to the British Heart Foundation was enough to give some people nightmares! A collection of preserved bugs and insects in display cases proved far more appealing that the charity's Hull shop volunteers first thought and ended up raising £205! The collection was part of a set of 69 'Real Life Bugs & Insects' magazines published in association with the Natural History Museum.

Real insects donated to BHFPhoto Credit British Heart Foundation

8. Glad this Custard Tin Avoided the Metal Recycling Bin

We're all about scrap metal and recycling here, but we were relieved to hear this old tin didn't end up in any bin, recycling or not! The British Heart Foundation shop in Cambridge realised there may be more to the vintage Home & Colonial Stores Ltd. Custard Powder tin, even though it wasn't in perfect condition, and they ended up selling it on eBay for a magnificent £107 from a starting price of just £4.99!
Most Brits love custard, but after making over a ton for a loved charity, we're pretty impressed with the container now too!

Custard powder tin donated to BHFPhoto Credit British Heart Foundation

9. Scarlett's Snotty Tissue Tackles Hunger in the U.S.

From a custard tin in Cambridge to a tissue in California! Number 9 on our list is a particularly odd item as it's hard imagining anyone wanting to bid on some discarded mucus! But when celebrities are involved and the money is going to a good cause, it seems you can't predict the outcome! After Scarlett Johansson blew her nose on 'The Tonight Show with Jay Leno' in 2008, the tissue she used had more than 80 bids at a silent auction. It finally sold for $5,300 (more than Katy's trampoline!) with the funds going to the hunger charity USA Harvest.

Scarlett Johanssen Auctionned TissuePhoto Credit Scarlett Johansson / NiceStuffs / You Tube

10. Hedgehogs Hitch a Ride in Donation Bags

We thought it was odd to hear about a live hedgehog that had been donated to The Salvation Army in a duffel bag, but it seems Harry the Hog wasn't supposed to be donated at all. What makes our number 10 so unusual is that Harry wasn't a one-off! Last year another hedgehog was found by charity workers at the Farleigh Hospice shop in Essex. Hiding in the bottom of a bag, this second hog was identified by wildlife organisation Hedgehog Haven as having recently given birth, so a mass search was started for the unaware donor so Mummy hog could be reunited with her hoglets! And that's not even the last appearance of a prickly pet in a charity exchange… An African pygmy hedgehog was accidentally donated to the Walthamstow British Heart Foundation shop - again found hiding in a donation bag along with clothes, books and shoes! This miniature hog was rescued by the South Essex Wildlife Trust, so it never made it to the shop shelves!
These accidental, live donations didn't raise any money for the charities involved, but they certainly served as a helpful reminder not to leave donation bags outside!

Hedgehog in a charity donation bagPhoto Credit Danielle Boland /

We hope you've enjoyed our Top Ten alternative donations to charity, we certainly had fun finding out about these weird and wonderful things that have helped some great causes.

Remember your old car, while pretty normal compared to this lot, can do some amazing things turned into a donation for your favourite charity and we make the whole process really easy. Just maybe check there isn't a hedgehog hiding in the boot!