RALEIGH, N.C. — As some donation centers are learning, some people's definition of used is certainly different from usable.
"Instead of going to the dump, they just brought it by the mission and dropped it off," said Sylvia Wiggins, of the Helping Hand Mission, which has recently received donated items that are not up to snuff.
Every other day, Helping Hand has a truck hauling donated "junk" away to the landfill.
"This desk has three legs to it. This sofa's busted up," said Wiggins. "We don't have a free ride. We gotta pay to get rid of this stuff."
So far this year, the group has spent $4,000 to haul off bad items -- money that could be going to families in need.
Goodwill centers have seen their share of junk donations such as couches with no cushions and TVs that show half a picture.
"Unfortunately, I think there are some people who think, well, I'll just take it to Goodwill they'll use it, or they'll get rid of it," said Becky Lytle of Goodwill. "Just look at what you're donating and see what kind of condition it is before you give it to us."
Most donations are in good shape and do end up on the sales floor. But materials such as clothing that's ripped or soiled goes into a bailer and the compacted cubes are then sold and recycled into rags.
The bulkier items go to the landfill, costing Goodwill $220,000 last year in eastern North Carolina.
"If they got anything that's no good or somebody can't use, please give us a raincheck," Wiggins said. "Because we'll have to get rid of it, and it's very expensive."