Dealing with donations

  • Posted: Sunday, January 13, 2013 10:14 a.m.
AP Photo
In this Dec. 31 photo, piles of donated stuffed animals await sorting in a warehouse in Newtown, Conn. Tens of thousands of items have been sent to the town in the wake of the Dec. 14 massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, forcing officials to set up an infrastructure to deal with the donations.
AP Photo In this Dec. 31 photo, piles of donated stuffed animals await sorting in a warehouse in Newtown, Conn. Tens of thousands of items have been sent to the town in the wake of the Dec. 14 massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, forcing officials to set up an infrastructure to deal with the donations.

You are browsing the store aisles and grab a discounted shirt you have spotted, remembering the local fundraiser you have heard about. Later you get wrapped into a cleaning frenzy and put unwanted items into trash bags, knowing the thrift store will take it all.

Excited, you drive to the donation center, your bags in the car’s backseat.

You come up to similar scenes at both places – workers outside, passing bags similar to yours into the storage room. Getting out of the car and then handing over the bags, you know you are doing good; this feels right.

The worker looks into the bags and frowns. To your surprise, he hands them back to you. They have refused your good deed.

When it comes to helping out, people can’t help but sometimes over-help.

The aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School incident brought tears, fears and too many donations, according to NPR. The school was so overtaken with teddy bears and other items, it had to ask people to stop. Superstorm Sandy’s relief groups are dealing with a similar situation, as they are dealing with the many clothes and other things they received.

The Center for International Disaster tries to avoid these circumstances but has had little luck.

“People’s hearts cry out, and they really want to be able to help,” said Leah Feder with Occupy Sandy, a movement to help Superstorm Sandy victims.

People’s hearts cry out when there is a need.

When the Salvation Army of Aiken needs anything, they “put a plea out, and the community responses beautifully,” said Capt. Angela Repass, director of Aiken County’s Salvation Army.

The organization often needs certain food items – meat, canned food and breakfast food – and household items –furniture and cleaning supplies.

Clothing – used, new and even ripped – paper products, arts and crafts, hygienic products and money are some of the items that are accepted. Furniture can be picked up by calling 641-4141.

Clothing is a common donation and can be used in the thrift stores if too much is received. Canned food is a common food item but can always be put in storage. Shampoo hotels are also something the organization often sees; they just give these to the Red Shield Homeless Shelter residents.

Donations are divided among clients and organization programs like the soup kitchen, homeless shelter, Nancy Moore Thurmond Boys & Girls Club, Senior Citizens Activities and Character Building for Youth.

The Salvation Army thrift store houses some donations and funds the programs as well. The local stores are on Richland Avenue, Silver Bluff Road and Aiken-Augusta Highway in Clearwater. Certain people can apply for biannual shopping vouchers; for more information, call 641-4149.

For more information, visit the Facebook page The Salvation Army of Aiken, www.salvationarmyaiken.org or call 641-4141.

At one point, Area Churches Together Serving had to turn away hospital beds, not for a lack of desire but for a lack of space.

“We give them referral to other agencies,” Gaile Boyd, administrative assistant, said.

If there were any abundance of items, it would go either to their clients or into their resale store, a store full of low-priced merchandise located at 401 Hayne Ave.

ACTS has items it often needs: underwear, coats, blankets and socks.

Last fall, it was in need of meat, or at least money to purchase it, and a public service call was made.

“Anytime we put out a SOS call, we get a great response,” Boyd said.

Donations of clothing, household goods, furniture and computers are sorted and stored until needed.

Sixteen area churches make up ACTS.

For more information, visit www.actsofaiken.org or call 649-3800.

Goodwill’s purpose might not be as clear as Salvation Army’s or ACTS’, but it is vital – to create jobs.

When you shop in a Goodwill store, you of course help the store’s employees maintain their jobs. But, every dollar you spend at the store goes toward each person who uses the Goodwill’s Job Connection services.

“Our core mission is to help people (be able) to work,” Jennifer Hart, Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia & CSRA community director, said.

Clothes and household products are the primary items donated to the store.

If there ever seems to be too much of an item, “there is always tomorrow to use it,” Hart said.

If there is a shortage, one area store will call the other and ask for help. Other than that, local donations stay local, Hart said.

Mens and children’s clothes seem to often be in short supply for the Aiken store.

Big fluctuations of donations often come in around the end-of-the-year, spring cleaning and back-to-school.

Goodwill of Aiken is at 1015 Pine Log Road.

For more information, call 644-4601 or visit www.goodwillworks.org.

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