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Many donation boxes belong to for-profit companies

Posted December 2, 2014

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— Leann Futrell has used the green boxes she finds in store parking lots to donate old clothes and shoes. She never thought much about where her stuff goes.

“Hopefully, it goes to something good somewhere along the way, but I just know it's like a matter of convenience,” Futrell said.

Where it goes is into someone's pocket.

The boxes belong to Green Zone, a for-profit company. It sells the donated items to rag merchants, who ship them around the world to be sold again, mostly in developing countries.

Charity Recycling Services is another for-profit reseller. Despite the name, it's not actually a charity, either. That was a surprise to shopper Michael Taylor.

“I'll definitely never donate there then,” said Taylor, who usually donates through his church. “I'd rather give it to Goodwill and the Vietnam vets and some people that can get some use out of it.”

Local charities are concerned that donations are being diverted. But resellers say they provide a public service by keeping reusable items out of landfills. Their boxes are required to be clearly labeled. They're popping up everywhere lately, from gas stations to strip malls to neighborhoods.

Planet Aid is a licensed charity. Like the for-profits, it also sells donated clothes and shoes, but the group donates the net proceeds to charity organizations. According to their 2012 tax records, that was about 25 cents for every dollar's worth of clothing donated.

Secretary of State Elaine Marshall regulates the boxes. She says donors should always read the fine print and consider delivering their donations to a local group instead.

“Put a little bit of extra energy in it to make sure that it stays in this community and it gets to a good use,” she said.


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  • PowderedToastMan Dec 3, 2014

    Wow-- and they're just discovering this?

  • jimcricket15 Dec 3, 2014

    I have seen these boxes in parking lots, but I have never used them. Any still usable clothing and other items, I give to goodwill. Seems to me these folks could partner with actual charitable places like goodwill. Goodwill and other places could pass along to them any items that either will not sell or are actually not usable any longer and split the profits. Either that or sell any unsellable items to the rag companies.

  • Rebelyell55 Dec 3, 2014

    So far I've not seen one of these boxes that does not have a disclaimer on it stating it's a for profit collection and is not tax deductable. Most place that take donated clothes are in building and pretty far away from rual areas and sometimes will turn down stuff if they are full and don't have room to store it. So these become 2nd choice instead of the landfills.

  • dlnorri Dec 2, 2014

    At least the for-profit folks are honest sort of...with a name like charity recyling; so many "charities" are big profit scams (goodwill was caught paying the officers 7 figure salaries off the donations they recieved); and many of those "health societies" that pocket nearly all the donations they recieve. Do not even talk about the scammers that sucker the school kids into getting money for them. Find a good local operation and support and participate with them.....Let the "big charities" starve......