Local News

Not All Clothing Drop Boxes Are What They Seem

Posted November 17, 2004 8:03 a.m. EST

— If you have cleaned out your closet recently, you may have donated old clothes to a nonprofit group such as the Salvation Army or Goodwill.

Clothing donation drop boxes are popping up at busy shopping centers in and around the Triangle; however, nonprofit groups, such as Goodwill, say those clothes are not going where most people think.

"They're not charities. They are for-profit companies and their mission is to make money for themselves," said Steve Snyderman of Goodwill of Eastern North Carolina.

Snyderman said the drop sites are misleading.

Ricky and Joanne Sanders dropped several bags of clothes in a box located off Lynn Road in Raleigh.

The couple thought they were donating to Goodwill, because they said the boxes are located in a parking lot right next to a Goodwill donation center.

The boxes really belong to Friendship Used Clothing of Raleigh.

"That's kind of a cheap trick," Ricky Sanders said.

"I want to pull my stuff out, because it wasn't intended for them. I don't even know who they are," Joanne Sanders said.

David Greenfield, owner of Friendship Used Clothing, said he does not believe people are being misled with the way the boxes are set up.

"No, no we're not. We believe if you are working with the Goodwill, or some other organizations like you mentioned, we encourage people to continue. What we're looking to do is fill a niche in the market," he said.

Greenfield's company sells collected items to markets in South America and Africa. He said he is in the business of recycling to help keep clothing out of landfills.

Greenfield admits his is a for-profit business, but said part of the proceeds are donated to local charities.

"Obviously, it impacts us in that we get fewer donations," Snyderman said.

Snyderman does not know exactly how much Goodwill loses, but said it is enough to concern them.

Each drop box lists the company's name, Web site and phone number so people can find out where their donations go. Nonprofit groups hope people will double check the boxes before they drop off items.

A Florida-based used clothing business also has donation boxes throughout the Triangle. Its boxes are legal because the company is not claiming to be a nonprofit charity.