Local News

Donating used toys? Salvation Army says ‘no thanks’

Posted December 8, 2007
Updated November 18, 2008

— There's a little bit of everything at the Salvation Army Thrift Store. That's what Helen Gower and her son Charlie like about it. But on a recent trip, something was noticeably missing.

“Charlie wanted to know where the toys were,” Gower said.

The toys shelves were empty. The Salvation Army will no longer be accepting used toys or selling them at their thrift stores. Workers have removed all the donated used toys because of the massive toy recall.

The recall list is so huge that Salvation Army officials said it would be extremely difficult to check each and every donated used toy against the list.

“But most importantly, it’s our obligation to assure our shoppers and out clients that we are providing safe toys,” said Ashley Delamar with the Salvation Army.

The Wake County Corps is also removing the used toys at its shelters and community centers.

Toys represent at least 10 percent of sales at the Raleigh thrift store. Officials said it will amount to tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenue for community programs, not to mention the hit to families who rely on the thrift store.

For Gower, it will mean Charlie and her three other children might have to go without some toys.

“It’s cheaper. I can’t afford to go buy brand new toys for my kids,” she said. “They’re not going to get as many toys for Christmas, because this is where I was finding them.”

The ban on used toys excludes bicycles, vintage toys and electronic game sets. Brand new toys are always welcome.


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  • jse830fcnawa030klgmvnnaw+ Dec 8, 2007

    Madasheck, you have no earthly clue what it takes to check the toys for lead and you should never make negative assumptions/generalizations without checking the facts first. Salvation Army, like other non-profit organizations, has limited staff and cannot deal with any liability in giving lead-contaminated toys to anyone. Lead test kits are inconsistent at best, so there is no real effective ways in checking toys for lead. Plus, a good number of consumers have used non-profit organizations as dumping grounds for "recalled" toys so that they can write-off their donations in their taxes, and this selfish action further strains non-profit organizations. It takes a good number of people resources to check toys against these recall lists, and when you are dealing with donated used toys, you may not have the original packaging box or docs to accurately check. May be you should donate your time and effort in the Salvation Army and see what it takes to run the operations...

  • Mad-as-heck Dec 8, 2007

    One of these days we're going to be so safe life will be a prison. Many families depend on the Salvation Army for the toys each year at Christmas. I guess it's too much like work to just weed out the bad toys and keep the rest. Lazy is all it is opinion. You can bet I won’t be putting any money in their little red pots this year.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Dec 8, 2007

    And the Salvation Army wonders why it's donations are down. When you become picky and make it difficult to donate, people quit donating.

  • Hammerhead Dec 8, 2007

    Don't buy them. I buy books for the wee ones.

  • djofraleigh Dec 8, 2007

    There is no better bunch than the Salvation Army. The Marine Corps Toys for Tots takes only new toys. Santa don't recycle.

    As for the wisdom of this decision, if they err, they err on the safe side.

  • validpoint Dec 8, 2007

    There is always Toys for Tots, and Social Services has plenty of resources through churches and other communities throughout the Christmas season.

    Salvation Army isn't the only place in town for the poor.

  • mjjunk Dec 8, 2007

    Couldn't they just place a disclaimer in front of the section requesting any purchaser to check the status of the toy against a published list (perhaps even providing the list on site)? Then if a prospective purchaser noticed a toy on the list, they can notify whoever is onsite that the toy has been recalled?

  • weasleyes Dec 8, 2007

    I donate to Helping Hands Mission. They aren't so picky! Don't dump trash, but they will take any reasonable donation.

  • Say it to my face Dec 8, 2007

    I can see where the SA is coming from, but I think they should of made an effort to stop used toy sales AFTER the holidays and toughed it out a few more days...

  • daisy Dec 8, 2007

    I agree with Moo, the SA is big business, nonprofit but still big business. They can be picky because they have alot of donations already. They are looking to turn that donation into a sale. Just like any industry, there are big nonprofits and little nonprofits. The big ones tend to overshadow the smaller organizations. Name recognition doesn't always mean they are better than the smaller ones. If the SA doesn't want to take the time to check used toys for the children then there are probably other nonprofits in our towns that will take the time.
    I feel for the lady in this article, she isn't looking for a hand out, just what she can afford. There are so many hard working people like her who can't afford a new toy but isn't looking for something for free.