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Clothing Charity Says Most Donated Goods Are Unusable

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JOHNSTON COUNTY, N.C. — Ronald Still and his wife run a charity, Basic Needs Ministry, out of a Johnston County warehouse. They collect donated clothing, give most of it away to people in need, and sell a small portion to keep the operation running.

"We get about 4,000 items donated a week; about 200,000 items a year," said Still.

However, Still said nearly 90 percent of the donations end up in one place -- the dumpster out front.

"Many of the items donated are literally trash," he said. "It's something we couldn't put on a child and have that child, with dignity, go into a classroom."

Volunteers carefully sort through every bag that comes in. Still said they spend most of their time, and more than $100 a month, trashing tattered or badly stained clothing.

When asked why the nonprofit keeps going, despite the expense and frustration, Still said, "We're after the 10 percent of the good. We have that many children in this community that need clothing. We're like treasure hunters -- we're out looking for that treasure."

It's a problem many similar non-profits deal with. However, Still said it's worth the hassle.

"There is nothing else that is going to help these kids," he said.

Still said he wants more people to think about what they're donating and where it goes, before they drop off a bag.

According to Still, many of the items thrown away could be recycled as rags, but it would cost the nonprofit too much out of pocket to make that happen. He suggested that people look into recycling options before donating tattered clothing to charities.


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