If you have donated clothing or shoes to those donation bins that have been popping up all over town, you might be surprised to find out where your donations are going. The bins are easily confused with The Salvation Army, but their purpose is very different.
You may come across one of these bins and decide you want to donate some old clothing and shoes. But do you really know where your old stuff is going? We did some investigating and although you might think you're donating to a charity, that isn't the case at all.
Collection bins are popping up all over town. Some are red, some are green and some are blue. For most people, it's an easy way to drop off old clothing so it can go to charity. But what might surprise you is that a lot of these boxes aren't run by charities, they are run by for-profit companies.
"People may have the impression that what's happening is they are helping clothe somebody who is in need, but what is actually happening is that material is bundled up and taken to a recycling company, which then pays by the pound. Typically 23 cents a pound for clothing material and around 70 cents a pound for shoes," Goodwill marketing director Barry Paschal says.
And that concerns the people who run local charities in the Augusta area. Paschal says the donations they receive stay in the community, however, the donations that are put inside these collection bins, do not.
"More than 82 cents of every dollar of revenue that Goodwill takes in goes back into our mission directly," Paschal says.
And even though some of the donation boxes do support charities, most of the ones we spotted came from for-profit companies, like "Better World Recycling" and "Second Life Recycling". According to Georgia state law, those collection bins are supposed to let people know they are not a charity, but we found dozens across town that weren't labeled that way.
"There is no way for the individual consumer or donor to know that they are not donating to charity because in violation of state law, the boxes don't tell you that they are not for a charity," Paschal says.
There have been complaints about these donation bins being dropped off at sites without permission from property owners. At the Big Lots in Evans, the site manager tells us that a donation bin showed up on their property and he had to call the company to have it removed.
We also found a donation bin sitting across the street from a Waffle House. The property owners say they have no idea where it came from.
If you want to donate clothing or shoes, Goodwill recommends that you know who you are donating to before you do so. You can use one of those bins, but make sure you read the bin before you drop anything inside.
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