Desperately seeking donations

tre3March 13, 2007

Goodwill Industries in our community is low on stock. They have had a lot of publicity about needing donations so badly that they may need to lay off employees! This weekend the boy scouts were out collecting for them.

Two things strike me. Am I the only one with precious treasures(aka junk to me) to donate? It seems impossible in this consumer oriented environment that people don't need to get rid of things

Somehow knowing how dire the situation is has made it even easier to pull open a cabinet, drawer or closet and let go of a few more things. Would such a plea make it easier for you too?

My house's diet is more successful than my own. Its lighter and lighter every day! T

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There may be several things influencing donations. I think as people are more away of getting rid of stuff, thrift stores are in competition for the items. We have lots of thrift stores for a community of our size. Convenience of drop-offs or pick-ups is a factor. The better the pick-up service, the more donations.

I've learned from reading this list that some organizations just don't take many items, which suprises me. Freecycle is an easy way to get items gone. Curb shopping now happens. Resale stores are popping up around the country. It's still the end of winter and people haven't gotten ready for garage sales yet. Or they are holding on to the stuff for the garage sale.

When I lived in the Mid-West, Goodwill was a place which would repair items. Now, items are so cheaply made we need to throw many things away since they can't be repaired. I rarely donate my clothing because they are actually worn out. Good thing I wear mostly cotton. Great for rags and composting.

I usually keep the donation bags headed out the door, but a couple of my friends are going to have garage sales to help make some funds for taking the kids to a dance competition in August. I'm currently saving things which I feel will sell, so they can use them rather than donate.


    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 2:46PM
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I am decluttered... an appeal like that would result in very little (if any) donation from me.

I donate regularly and have nothing accumulated in the house. We are pretty much a "one-in, one-out" family!

    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 7:23PM
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Lena M

Maybe it depends on the region, My local (Wisconsin) Goodwill looked pretty well stocked yesterday. But if anyone was looking for yet another good reason to donate, the Boston Store departments store is having a "Goodwill Sale" next week, for every donated clothing or textile you get a coupon for 10-20% off a retail purchase. (Similar sales happen at their affiliates, Herbergers, Carson Pirie Scott, Younkers, etc.)


    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 11:43PM
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Good point about craigslist and freecycle and curbside recycling! Thrift stores are not as popular here as garage sales which will be starting in earnest in the next months depending on temperatures.
When my kids were younger( and I had more energy?LOL) it seemed like it was more worthwhile to hold things for a garage sale.
My last garage sale was so depressing. I made a significant amount of money. I'd look out at all the STUFF a friend and I were selling and realize we had THOUSANDs of dollars invested in STUFF we were going to get pennies on the dollar. I think that trauma really helped to change the way I shop. I still shop(maybe too much) and I still make mistakes on purchases. I often look at something and wonder how I'd feel about putting it in a garage sale. Most of all I just try to avoid holding a sale for many reasons. I too like to keep a bin of items to donate. When the bin fills I just go to the drive thru donation drop off.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2007 at 9:37AM
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Around here we are on the call list for every charity that picks up. I would rather bring it to Goodwill rather than have most of it sold for rags, as I know happens, but the convenience of pickup wins. I had a back seat full of donations last month amd couldn't find the Goodwill store. After bouncing around a while, back in the garage it went.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 6:53PM
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Goodwill, right now, in WI, is partnerting with Boston Store. BS gives a 20% off certificate with every donation.

The Goodwill Stores here are always packed to the max everytime I go there.

Purple Heart picks up stuff from your porch four times a year.

Others do the same.

The last time I left stuff out for Purple Heart, the neighbors scavanged everything, and it was alomost all gone before morn, and hardly anything was left for PH.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2007 at 1:55AM
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Charities here in Canberra used to have donation bins in shopping centre carparks but these used to get vandalised or people would leave unusable things and they were often overflowing so stuff would get ruined in the rain. Now they prefer you to deliver to their store or some will pickup.

I believe in donating when I can but in practical terms I find it annoying. There's the place next to the shops so it's convenient but it's so unfriendly and they don't even notice when you're struggling with arms full trying to open the door. On the way to the shops is a place that backs onto an alley where they receive deliveries, it's also where the staff hang around smoking. They also pickup but can't tell you when, not even to narrow it down to morning or afternoon. Once when I set aside a day to wait for them they damaged the door on the way out and didn't even say sorry. The nicest place is some distance away. Pleasant people and it used to be easy to deliver things thanks to the automatic sliding doors and spacious foyer, one corner of which was devoted to donations. Maybe they thought it didn't look good. Now a sign directs you to a small door in the other wing of the building and there's barely room to turn around once you're through it. And their carpark has been busier the last couple of times so I've had to walk further. Sometimes I've got stuff ready to go but I can't decide between smokers alley or struggling with door so I leave it for another day.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2007 at 10:22AM
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A word of warning about some of these "donation bins".

Red bins started appearing around the Milwaukee and Chicago area a few years back. They had a big American flag sticker on them and the vague words "Put Clothing and Shoes Here" in white lettering.

I was suspicious of them, as they did not say who owned them and the patriotic theme of the design seems like a scheme of deception.

And sure enough, I had friends who were dropping stuff off in them. When I tried to point out that these could be owned by anyone and maybe owned by just some guy who had a thrift store somewhere, who sold the stuff for profit, I was laughed at. One person told me that they just HAD to be owned by the Salvation Army because the bins were "red and white" and that Goodwill uses 'blue'. (Duh.)

Sure enough, our local newspaper decided to investigate these ubiquetous red bins. They found out that yes, they were privately owned by a for profit company. The guy who owned them had not done anything illegal though. He didn't actually say on the bins that they were for charity, just "Put clothes and shoes here" and people followed like sheep without doing any thinking.

It seems that every year around Xmas, someone gets arrested for dressing up in a Santa suit and ringing a bell over a drum, when they are not connected to any charity, and keep all the money for their new BMW or whatever. They can't charge them with theft or fraud unless they say they are connected with some orginization to which they do not belong. They get them on disorderly conduct charges or something like that.

Another scam in my city involved children selling candy bars. The candy bars had the word "Take a bite out of crime" printed on them giving some people the idea the money was going to a civic or commiunity organization. It was a private enterprise owned by one guy who drove these kids all over to different neighborhoods selling these things. All the money went to line his pockets with a tiny percent given to the kids as "wages".

Before donating any money or items make sure you are giving to a real charity.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2007 at 8:40AM
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It is discouraging when you can't find a place to take your donations. I've also lived in areas where it appears you are giving to charity when in fact it is a private for profit outfit. We are lucky to have several Goodwill and Salvation Army stores with drive up drop offs.Im riding around with a bag of donations now--I just have to may an effort to stop so I can get rid of it!

    Bookmark   March 19, 2007 at 9:01AM
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My peeve regarding charities follows. After my last child was born, I had tons of baby stuff to donate. Maternity clothes, car seats,highchair,playpens, a bassinet,lots of girls clothes in excellent shape,even many "newborn" size girls dresses that were never worn and stillhad the price tags on. I couldn't find any charity to take them. I finally contacted Birthright, an organization that helps unwed mothers,and they took my stuff, but ONLY becase I made a cash donaton as well. Whether they distributed the stuff to deserving mothers,I'll never know. Then,when MIL died, we had to empty her house to sell it. We called both Goodwill and Savation army. SA said they'd send a truck. They took only a few pieces of furniture. They took nothing with fabric and nothing electrical, like working lamps and a never-used sewing machine. They wouldn't take a set of dishes that was still in the box. They took her dining table but not the chairs, and a small computer desk. All the rest of her furniture was piled next to the street. I stayed there a day, two people stopped their cars and looked. I told them "help yourself" and each one took one small end table. The rest was picked up by the town garbage truck. I am shocked that no one will accept donatons of perfectly good useful stuff.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2007 at 10:58AM
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Jannie I don't blame you for having some peeves! I'll remain thankful that our charities take most things. Going to put a small box in my van and drop it off today!

    Bookmark   March 19, 2007 at 1:56PM
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bud wi makes an important point. Those anonymous bins have shown up here as well. I don't donate to any organization that doesn't readily identify itself. BTW, "Birthright" sounds like an organization opposed to abortion that is soliciting financial donations along w/used baby goods. Nothing wrong with that if you understand what your supporting upfront, agree with their philosphy, and really want to give them your money, but tying it to donations sounds like a sneaky way to get funds.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2007 at 11:04PM
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I know about emptying MIL's house Jannie. When I rang around to find out who takes what sort of stuff and who does pickups, only one person bothered to say sorry for your loss. The other two major charities were unbelievably unfriendly and unhelpful.

The Salvos used to be able to check and do minor repairs to electrical appliances and some other items. Not any more. When they came a few weeks ago they rejected a desk with one drawer that won't slide properly. DH isn't much of a handyman and we didn't want the hassle of advertising it but I suppose if the Salvos don't want it we'll have to fix it and sell it.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2007 at 8:21AM
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I put my stuff out for Purple Heart because they always pick up and appreciate the donations. I shall never take anything to the SA or Goodwill. The ones around here are very picky about what they will accept and refuse more than they accept, and I am talking about stuff in excellent condition! To add insult to injury, the workers stand around and do not offer a hand with the heavy stuff. They simply don't care, unless you have something they (the workers) want themselves. A friend recently took a trunk full of stuff to one of them, and the workers actually picked what they wanted from his trunk and took it to their cars and left the rest in his trunk!

As for soliciting, a few years ago there was a very well-dressed lady always standing at the mall near my home with a can labeled "Soup Kitchen". It was a standing joke in my circle about whose "Soup Kitchen" it was! LOL Before soliciting was banned from there, I was accosted every time I went grocery shopping. On one occasion, a young lady asked me for money purportedly for a bus ticket. She said her car broke down. When I refused, she actually followed me into the store, screaming at me very loudly, while shaking her hands at me. It was frightening!

I want to help people where and when I can, but a little courtesy is called for as well, I think.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2007 at 8:00PM
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Both Goodwill and Salvation Army are beginning to get a reputation for being picky about donations. I am in agreement with pink carnation--the workers when you drop off the stuff are not helpful either.
So I have started to look around and find my own individuals to donate to. A friend who moved here from Connecticut was happy to take kitchen stuff, microwave oven, etc. One of our remodeling workers was happy to take a mattress and box springs and I added the sheets and pillow cases.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 7:55AM
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I'm doing my best to keep Goodwill running here in my community. I have another couple of light bags to drop off.
We remain lucky here to have several places that will take things. A couple of years ago we had an upright piano (given 5th hand) that we didn't need. We could find no organization that was interested. Funnily it ended up at the house we got it from-just new owners.
Another place I use for paint rejects, remodeling leftovers, etc is Habitat Restore. We have also donated 2 dead cars for scrap value to our homeless shelter.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 8:04AM
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I am often stunned at the things people consider "in good condition" that get donated to our Goodwill and Savaltion Army. I frequent three Goodwills and a Salvation Army and can't believe the things that people drop off. Broken household items and toys, fraying bed linens, shoes with holes in the soles. People use charities as a dump for things they can't bear to admit should be thrown out.

Our Goodwill does take ratty clothes--- to sell by the pound to be made into rags (or something like that) I always put my clothing donations into two bags "good stuff" for them to sell as clothes, and "ratty" stuff to be sold by the pound as rags (somewhere else.. it all gets shipped away and sorted)

Perhaps in some areas of the US the Goodwills are picky and reject great stuff. Here, they politely take all (except things like weapons on the forbidden list) They throw out the worst of the lot and even put some of the broken stuff out. I suspect that they don't have time to test things out to make sure they work and to go throug boxes to make sure toys and such are complete.

Worse, places like Target donate broken returns and take a tax write off.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2007 at 12:30AM
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It costs the Goodwill folks time and energy--and money, bcs they pay for their garbage to be hauled away-- to deal w/ crummy stuff. Those of us who donate owe it to them to cull BEFORE we bring them things.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2007 at 9:26AM
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I think if you'd be embarassed to sell it in a garage sale or give it as a hand me down to neighbor/relation then maybe it doesn't belong in the donation pile either. Some things need to be thrown away.
Taking two more bags of STUFF to Goodwill.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2007 at 10:40AM
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I value and support the mission of Goodwill Industries. I am at one or another of their sites weekly, either donating or shopping or doing an evaluation/consultation on a disabled person.

I donate to Purple Heart regularly also, appreciating the pickup service. But last month I'd arranged pickup of three large boxes set on my porch very visible from the street. I watched as truck came, slowly Uturned and left without stopping. I waited a day thinking they might have different trucks for boxes and furniture. Nothing. Problem was, when I called, the woman on the phone got all rude and accusatory: first insisting no one was home, then demanding to know if the boxes were marked clearly enough, etc. Hello?? I said twice that the truck never even stopped!!! Sheesh.

Point is, any of the programs can have warts I guess. For me here, I will shift back to prioritizing Goodwill.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2007 at 10:45AM
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I know the organisations here use the ratty stuff for rags so I sort and label bags of things, eg, good condition but no longer fits me or worn out. Some things have gone in the bin because I can't think of them even as rags.

What is going on with these rude people in the very organisations where you would think you would find nice caring decent people!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2007 at 5:31AM
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Regarding the people who work in these stores: I think you underestimate how rude many of the customers are. I have seen huge families overwhelm a good will store, try things on, leave them on the floor, and then walk out with like, $2 worth of stuff. If you had "customers" being rude to you all day, for weeks, months, years, I think you'd start becoming offensive, and not defensive. Part of some of these donation sites is to train people for jobs in "the real world". SO, if you look at these people as trainees, and realize they might not have any choice about where else to work, you might be able to brush off their rudeness a bit easier.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2007 at 5:44AM
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Yesterday I dropped off two bags to a smiling women who thanked me for my donation and then asked if I'd like a kiss as she showed me a basket of Hershey Kisses. I asked for two, one for me and one for my DD. We smiled as we drove away.
Last week I saw an ad for an event being held the following day. People donate gently used formal wear, old prom dresses etc., to girls who could not otherwise afford to go to prom. Called the number to be told they were closed. Closed the day before the event that they advertised in the paper!?! Went online, no helpful info. Called back and listened to all my voice mail options and left a message that I had 2 dresses, cleaned and ready to go. Heard back 4 hours later that they would be downtown (20 minutes away) for a 3 hour window. Picked my DD up from school and hauled the dresses, in the rain, downtown. Found parking, schlepped thru the rain into the building only to pass a group of women. They mentioned that they were from the hosting organization and were closing an hour early. Handed them the dresses. No thank you just we'll take these off your hands. Didn't want much ,just thank you or thank you for your persistence. I have to take comfort in the fact that 2 girls will go to the prom in gorgeous dresses. I hope they have a wonderful night. Sometimes you just need to do the right thing even if there is no recognition, no thanks.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2007 at 8:10AM
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Rachelima, good point about how trying some customers can be. Actually it was the attitude of the elderly female volunteers that surprised me the most.

Tre3, you're a good person. At least you know the dresses were destined for something special.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2007 at 9:21AM
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Thanks Macbirch! I guess it just points out how the smallest kindness and courtesy can really affect a person's attitude. Perhaps it is time to practice more random acts of kindness. Smile today!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2007 at 12:22PM
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For many charities, the person who calls to schedule donations is a paid employee. I think their paycheck is based on part on how many successful pickups they schedule. If the truck gets there to find nothing, it reflects poorly on the scheduler. Of course if the driver looks at the wrong address, or doesn't feel like stopping, the same thing happens.

Of course this doesn't excuse yelling at a donor, but maybe it explains the feelings behind it.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2007 at 6:11PM
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We must be really fortunate that I haven't had a bad experience in donating. The for-profit places like Value Village are now taking donations at their stores instead of just the charity picking up. So, of course they don't want to pay the charity per pound or box for the trash or junk. One worker stopped me and said they needed to look through everything before I took off. Fine, but I don't usually schedule in time for that. I like to drop and go, so I've avoided this store. But I do see all of the broken crap they have piled to the side and wonder why people don't just deal with their own trash. I can't see how anyone would think a Fisher-Price trike with the wheels and pedals missing could be used. Even I can't think of any type of use for it and I'm usually pretty creative with repurposing items.


    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 4:12PM
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When we cleaned out my mother's house, the Salvation Army came and picked up everything ... all kinds of furniture, bags and bags of clothing, kitchen items, the works. It was all good stuff. We had already thrown out anything that was junk (old stained mattresses, etc.). All I recall about it is that they were efficient and there weren't any problems. We have also sometimes dropped things off at a truck they have manned during certain hours in a parking lot not far from where we live, and again, the people there have been polite and helpful.

I'm afraid I'm guilty of scheduling a Purple Heart pickup when they call and then forgetting to put the stuff out.

I've tried to give away a few things on Freecycle. I think if the item is small and easy to pick up, someone usually will want it if it's useful in some way. If it's a pain to move (like a piano) and is in bad enough shape that you can't sell it, no one will want it.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 1:14PM
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With the rise of online auctions and e-Bay, it is so much easier for people to list their items and sell them. Let's face it, there is a buyer for anything, the question is the right price. And actually, I know that many charity shops now also well online. My own position - donations are important. They are part of our culture.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 8:22AM
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