The Salvation Army Family Thrift Store takes in thousands of pounds of clothing every year. The store takes your old stuff and sells it at a fair price to people who need it. Major Tony Perez says 81 cents from every dollar goes directly to the charity's mission, which provides food and shelter for the homeless.
"Everything that individuals donate... clothing items and all those items, and monetary items, it stays here to impact our community. So Augustans are able to help Augustans," Perez says.
Karen Dickey has been donating to The Salvation Army for years, but this time, she almost decided to donate to this collection bin located across the street.
"I thought they were a part of The Salvation Army. And I thought that you could just drop things off, maybe more conveniently than coming over here," Dickey says.
But those bright red bins don't belong to The Salvation Army, they belong to recycling companies that take your old clothing and sell it to other countries.
"I think that's a shame. I really do because this how The Salvation Army makes their money to help the folks in this area and of course, there is always somebody out there trying to make a buck," Dickey says.
In the Augusta area, we spotted bins from "Better World Recycling" and "Second Life Recycling." Shane Clark is the owner of Second Life Recycling and even though his company is not a charity, he says it's still providing a service to the needy.
"So if the clothing or the sheets or the towels are usable, then they'll get them to people who can use those and it's just for cents on the pound in second hand markets all around the world. If they're not usable then they'll process them into different materials," Clark says.
But the Georgia Secretary of State's Office is investigating Second Life Recycling because some of its collection bins are not labeled properly. According to state law, for-profit companies need to let the public know that donation do not benefit a charity or religious organization, but Clark says the law doesn't apply to his company, because it's a recycling company.
"When I drop off a plastic bottle to be recycled into a recycling container, I'm not donating. I am getting rid of waste material. And clothing, at the end of the day, is a waste material. There is a life cycle," Clark says.
Earlier this year, Better World Recycling was fined by the state of North Carolina because the company's bins failed to display the proper language. The company has since added the wording to its bins, but several business owners have had problems with the bins just showing up on property without permission.
The owner of the Sunoco on Walton Way tells WJBF News Channel 6 that Better World Recycling did ask them for permission to leave a donation bin on the property, however, she also tells us the company is not paying her rent, and that she was under the impression the donation bin supported a charity.
Clark says if the state finds that his collection bins are in violation of state law, he will add the proper language to them. Some local charities feel that the bins are misleading, but Clark says that isn't the case at all.
"As of right now, I don't know of any other industry, for-profit business, that has to go around telling everybody you know, we're for-profit. On my restaurant, the food we're selling today, we're making money," he says.
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