Your Children’s Old Costumes Could Find a New Purpose at ChildSavers

We are collecting gently-used children’s costumes. Costumes facilitate children’s play in both our child development and mental health services. You can contact Amy Garmon about your donation at

How Are Costumes Used?

Children are active learners who absorb information by seeing and doing. In order for a child to truly remember something, it has to be meaningful. Further, the message has to be delivered in a method that children can comprehend. Dramatic play is one of the best ways to provide children an avenue to play, imagine, and learn.

The Power of Dramatic Play in Early Childhood

Do you remember playing dress up as a child? All children enjoy dress up, which is a form of dramatic play. Dramatic play is where all the magic of learning happens. It is a place that children can explore new cultures, learn to negotiate, and build vocabulary. Dramatic play allows a child to use their imagination and opens a world of endless possibilities.

Children can be anything they want to be without restrictions. It is a time to play with others and practice their social emotional skills that they will need for school and life. Young children will learn to tie laces, zip zippers, and button up shirts. They can learn so many things about their world and all they need is the materials and the conversation to guide their play.

How Your Donated Costumes Build Resilience

Dressing up in costumes is a natural part of children’s play. Children find ways to become someone else, to try on a new personality or role. This is how a child learns about themselves and explores their place in the world.

In therapy, getting into costume and assuming a new identity lets a child become the hero, the rescuer, the villain, or the victim. These roles can become less scary when children are able to experiment with and experience them. The role of healer may be symbolized in a doctor or nurse, so dressing up like one can be a way for a child to heal a part of himself. Likewise, a child seeking protection and safety may dress as a police officer or teacher. 

Our goal in therapy with children is to help them find healing and to build resilience and strength to overcome obstacles. Costumes can be a powerful way to make this happen.

Getting Creative with Costumes
Photo credit: Gavin Whitner,

The month of October provides many opportunities for children to dress up in costumes and pretend to be whatever they desire. If you are looking for costume ideas or dress up opportunities for young children, here are some suggestions: 

  • Career costumes – Nurses, Firefighters, Doctor, Baker, Veterinarian, Postal Person, the sky is the limit! Giving children the opportunity to dress up in career costumes, regardless of gender, to pretend to take on any role is empowering. Take time to check a book out from the library that allows the child to learn more about the career.
  • Costumes of animals – If you had an opportunity to go to the State Fair, bring in that experience to talk about which animal a child would want to be and why. If you weren’t able to attend the fair, check out a book from the library that talks about all the animals on a farm, ocean, or forest. Discuss where and how these animals live.
  • Hometown icons – Is there someone in the community that you can learn more about together? Perhaps there is a historical figure that would interest your child. In Richmond, a beautiful Maggie Walker statue was recently erected. She was born just blocks from our historic facility in Church Hill and is a great source of inspiration.
  • Princess or Prince – Yes, it is still okay to want to be a princess or prince. Take the time to learn something new about the one your child has chosen.

Providing children with a safe place to explore many different materials and expand their opportunities is what Dramatic Play is all about. Dress-up clothes are a great place to start, but wait! There’s more! Add props to go with clothes and costumes to enrich play experiences.  

How You – And Your Costumes! – Help

You can donate gently-used, clean costumes to ChildSavers. We welcome costumes of all sizes and for all ages up to 17. We have the greatest need for animals, community helpers (police, fire fighters, super heroes, military), villains (male and female), princesses and princes, capes, hats, masks, tutus, wings, shoes, masks, gloves, jewelry, and props.

Please contact Amy Garmon about your donation at

The original posting of this blog did not correctly attribute a photograph to Gavin Whitner, Thank you, Gavin, for allowing us to use your photo to help share how costumes and dramatic play are used to advance our mission.

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