EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The Salvation Army has seen an increase in donations over the past few months, but with a lack of volunteers and space they are having to pay unnecessary fees.
Peter Jordan, operations manager at The Salvation Army in El Paso, said people have been donating so much during the pandemic that their donation containers are often overflowing.
With their thrift store closed, he said, the influx of furniture, clothing and different items is hard to store because they are not having any customers coming to the store.
“There are some folks who know this stuff is not usable, but they just don’t want to go to the dump and dump it or they feel guilty about it and subconsciously don’t want to waste,” said Jordan, explaining how many donations are things that are in bad condition that end up being thrown away. “So they let someone else deal with it and make the judgement call.”
Because of this issue, he explained, they have to pay $1,300 a month for disposal fees, which has added up to almost $10,000 for the time their thrift store has been closed.
“When they come, they say, ‘hey I wanna help these people.’ Yes, let’s help them, but can you inconvenience your schedule a little bit to try and help them,” said Jordan, adding that the best way to donate is to call your local nonprofit first to see what they need and when they can receive it.
He said that taking extras steps can help the nonprofit and those in need more than just “dumping” the donations when they are overflowing.
Jordan mentioned that another issue they face is with people who leave donations after work hours.
He said people sometimes steal the donations and sell them for profit, so it’s better to set up a drop-off time than just leave donations in front of the containers.
“Do your best to use that to better someone’s life, because there’s a lot of darkness and a lot of sadness right now, we have a lot of shadows. It would be good to shed some light,” said Jordan.
He added that if you’re not sure whether to donate something or throw it away, ask yourself if you would gift it to your grandmother or a dear friend. If the answer is no, the best option is to throw it away.
The Salvation Army helps people get back on their feet after getting out of a shelter. They provide them with clothes and essential furniture.
Jordan said that some think donating an item in any condition is better than disposing of it. He disputes that, explaining that people who receive those donations often have low self-esteem and giving them faulty things would only lower their dignity further.
“Consider just your neighbor, consider someone down the street, consider a co-worker that you know is going through difficult times and maybe they can use your old fridge, maybe they can use your baby clothes or whatever,” added Jordan.
He added that a good alternative is to donate your things directly to those in need, helping them and, at the same time, getting some burden off the nonprofits who already have their hands full.