Garage or Tag Sales.
Recollection: I’ve explained my mission to sellers and received a discount. I asked if I could have items that didn’t sell after the sale ended if I would return to collect them. Example: I bought about 30 Beanie Babies at a garage sale that cost $1 for 3 and went back later to collect the (free) unsold Beanies.
Dollar Stores that sell school supplies and children’s toys.
School/local library sales. (Soft cover books weigh less but are less durable).
TIP: Ask your library/school about book sales.
Recollection: After learning about PACforKids, a local librarian gave us 2 dozen Spanish books to take to a Mexican orphanage.
PTO/PTA (Parent Teacher Organization/Association).
Neighbors, friends, work and club colleagues, churches.
Dentists. They give away free tooth brushes and tooth paste.
Fraternal Organizations (Elks, Moose, Kiwanis, Rotary, others).
Resale and Consignment stores like Salvation Army, Goodwill, St. Vincent de Paul thrift stores, etc.
Recollection: I explained my mission to a Salvation Army store manager who sold me Beanie Babies for about 30 cents each. When I returned from my trip, I thanked him again and showed him photos of the children who received the toys I’d bought from him.
TIP: Even resale, consignment, and thrift stores have sales. Ask about special sale days on items for infants, children, students, seniors, and others. They probably also have back-to-school, holiday, and other special sales (e.g. a discount if you shop on your birthday).
Big Box Stores. They have back-to-school and other sales to attract customers when you can inexpensively buy items in limited quantities.
Recollection: When I explained why I was buying items to a big box store employee he allowed me to buy more than the number allotted at the special price.
TIP: At a local store where you are a regular customer explain to the manager what you are doing and ask for a good price on items like pencils.
Recollection: When I explained my mission to a Walgreen’s store manager he sold me dozens of pencils for a reasonable price. After I returned I showed him my photos of the Lao children with their new pencils and, with his permission, I wrote a follow-up letter to his supervisor praising his kindness.
TIP: Environmentally-friendly “green” gifts are important in destinations that must deal with litter.