Proper Donation Drop-off Is Essential for Area Thrift Stores

Photos by Scott McCloskey Wheeling 16th Street Salvation Army Thrift Store Employee Cheyenne Walton sorts clothes in to the proper place inside the store. The store receives a larger number of donations throughout the holiday season.

WHEELING — The sight of workers clearing broken bags of clothes from the sidewalk behind the Salvation Army’s 17th Street warehouse, or a mattress left next to a clothes bin outside the St. Vincent de Paul Society Thrift Store in Fulton, is not uncommon to see during the early morning hours.

As donations to area charity thrift stores significantly increase over the holidays — so do the number of donations made in vain, according to local store managers. The managers agree that not only is it important to drop off items during store hours it is equally important to donate sellable items.

Salvation Army Captain Benny Carringer said they see a “huge increase” in donations at the16th Street Salvation Army in Wheeling between Thanksgiving and Christmas. He said while they welcome a wide variety of donations to their store and agency, including clothing and many household items, they often receive items that are dropped off behind the facility after hours of operation, many times causing items to be contaminated by rain and other outdoor elements.

He recommends residents make item donations during the facility’s hours of operation, so they don’t become contaminated to the point where they need to be thrown away, causing “extensive” disposal fees for the agency.

“A lot of times donations are dropped off after hours and people do go through them or sometimes animals will rip the bag. So what we do when we come in, we just clean those donations up,” he said. “We see a huge increase (of donations) especially during the holidays. Sometimes the best of intent happens after hours and we have put some things into place where volunteers come in on the weekends to help clean up some of the donations that are made at night,” he added.

He said anyone interested in making a donation to the Salvation Army in Wheeling can drop off items from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday at their warehouse, or, Saturdays at the thrift store. He said for larger items, call the agency at 304-233-4400 to schedule a pick-up appointment.

– At the St. Vincent de Paul Society Thrift Store, 225 McColloch St. in the Fulton area, manager Janice Bellanca said she also recommends for those wanting to donate clothes or household items to do so during store hours to eliminate any problems. She said while the store has a large clothes drop-off bin in place out in front of the store along the road, many times people will just throw bags of clothes next to the bin.

“What happens is it gets rained on and of coarse we can’t keep it, so it’s a waste and we have to take it to the trash,” Bellanca said. She said while the store does take most household items, they do not accept broken furniture or mattresses and box springs. She said often people will drop-off a large item that store doesn’t even accept, like a mattress, and then the store has to pay additional disposal fees because the dumpster fills up quicker.

“We do take couches, as long as they are not stained or torn,” she added. Bellanca said anyone interested in donating furniture should call for a pick-up appointment. St. Vincent de Paul Society Thrift Store hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday, and Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and the store phone number is 304-232-4230.

– Goodwill Systems Manager Jackie Ice said area Goodwill stores also receive a larger number of donations throughout the holiday season. She said sometimes donations must be thrown away, especially when they receive “non-sellable” items at their drop-off sites. She said if clothes become wet or exposed to the outdoor elements in some way they must be thrown away causing additional disposal fees for the store.

Ice is also asking area residents who make donations to please drop off items during the store’s hours of operation. Goodwill has stores located in St. Clairsville, Bellaire, Moundsville and New Martinsville. The Wheeling location closed last week. Their hours of operation are: 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday and noon to 6:30 p.m. Sunday, with the exception of the Bellaire location, which is closed on Sunday.

Ice said Goodwill is slightly different then some other local charity stores, as they are able to process many items that are not initially sellable through the company’s recycling program as long as those items are not wet, contaminated, or broken.

“If it’s left out … it get’s rifled through and in a rain storm it gets wet. … We can’t recycle wet clothes,” she added.