Archive for February 12th, 2018

Service of You Can’t Give It Away: Restrictions Make it Hard to Donate Goods to Major Charities

Monday, February 12th, 2018

Friends live in two places: An oversized Manhattan studio apartment and a New England home on the top of a mountain. They often update their wardrobes so their apartment closet became overwhelmed with clothing. Fred, [not his real name], spent one Saturday in the city cleaning and reorganizing. The result: Seven 30-gallon garbage bags filled with clean, ironed shirts, jackets, slacks and sweaters, some never worn.

Fred’s hallway with bags.

Fred called, among others, the Salvation Army, Good Will Industries and Outofthecloset.org, that supports HIV research. He wanted to donate the clothing.

What he learned was an eye-opener:

  • “The Good Will store doesn’t pick up,” he wrote me. “I would have to hire a large cab and deliver the bags myself. The Good Will general pick-up online is a joke.” Note: Both friends work crazy hours and scoot to their weekend retreat to catch their respective breaths on Friday. There would be no time on weekdays for them to deliver the bags.
  • “The Salvation Army wouldn’t be able to pick up until mid March,” Fred continued. Living with bags clogging the entrance to the apartment for over a month was not an option.
  • “Outofthecloset.org won’t pick up anything less than 20 13 gallon-size plastic bags which must be filled to the top. In any case, they can’t come by for several weeks.
  • “Another organization wanted items packed in a certain kind of box and required a sticker from UPS.”

I was sad to read that Fred is “tossing good clothes in the garbage little by little because charity has such strict rules.” He added: “Beggars are choosers indeed!”

Perhaps this is only a big city issue: Average NYC apartments usually don’t have space to store giveaway items for a month or more and most people don’t have cars in town which would make drop-offs easier. [Who wants to risk getting a ticket as you load the car in front of your apartment?] In any case, Fred’s cars stay at his house or at the train station parking lot.

Have you run into such roadblocks to giving? Is the glitch because charities don’t have the volunteers they may once have had to pick up goods or that their budgets are so squeezed that they can’t afford a sufficient number of drivers and vans to do the pickups?

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