VERNON - The Salvation Army Thrift Shop isn’t always getting a good deal when it comes to donations, especially at this time of year.
Instead of being sold for funds, some items actually cost the organization to get rid of. For Salvation Army store manager Gary Rich, it’s a weekly frustration that balloons in the springtime.
Stained beds, ripped couches, and rusty stoves among other things end up on the thrift shop’s doorstep every week and while the non-profit is appreciative of donations, if they can’t sell it, they have get rid of it, and that’s doesn’t come free.
“I think generally people consider us and think their stuff could possibly sell here, or they think we have someone that could repair it,” Rich says. “We don’t currently have enough volunteers to do that. Some stuff is just beyond fixing and it costs us a lot of money to take it to the dump.”
He estimates between the two thrift shops and whatever is dumped outside the food bank, landfill fees tally as much as $200 a week — not to mention the staff time involved and increased wear and tear on the store’s truck.
Another issue arises when people drop items off during non-business hours.
“When clothes are dropped off and no one’s here, some people come and just open the bags up, so then we are welcomed to a big pile of clothes all throughout our parking lot when we arrive in the morning. Not fun. If it rains overnight those clothes are basically done and that’s a shame,” Rich says. “We’ll be happy to take donations just don’t dump it when we’re not here.”
Now that the Talking Donkey Coffee Shop has closed, there are fewer eyes and ears in the area to deter people from stealing donations and the Salvation Army can’t afford a security guard.
Rich has seen some unusual donations over the years, including ash-filled urns, a whole roasted turkey in a basting pan, and a large, dead bird.
"I dont know if people thought 'here you can use it at the food bank,' or were just trying to dipose of it, or playing a joke,” Rich says.
For the most part, though, donations make the Salvation Army's community services possible, and for that staff are grateful. There is, however, a level of ettiquette involved in doing the good deed of donation.
“People are trying to give us donations for us to use to make money to help the community, but if they leave it and no one’s here and it gets stolen or damaged, we won’t see any of that money, in fact it costs us,” Rich says.
There are signs and fliers around the building detailing what’s accepted and what’s not. It's even better is to ask a staff member, or give them a call. They’re happy to tell you what can be donated, and if they can’t take it, they’ll help you find someone who will.
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