I-TEAM INVESTIGATES: Trash being dumped at charity stores cost them thousands a month

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Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Surveillance cameras outside the Salvation Army's thrift store roll as a man drives up and drops off a broken TV right at their dumpster in broad daylight.

"This is a daily thing. It happens all the time," said Salvation Army Capt. Phillip Canning.

Like, the day we showed up for our interview. Our cameras caught two men dropping off a broken stove. There wasn't even a power cord.

The Salvation Army showed us two mattresses dropped off too. They don't take mattresses because of the expensive treatment it would require.

"This is typical stuff we will find overnight and especially over the weekend," said Capt. Canning.

The Salvation Army's director tells us nights and weekends are the worst.

"You know if you have something towed or taken from your house .. you have to pay an additional fee for that. The unfortunate part is people figure they can drop something off and then leave," said Canning.

Canning tells us about 5% of their sales go to dumping expenses.

"It amounts to thousands of dollars a month," said Capt. Canning.

Thousands of dollars that would be spent on free programs the Salvation Army offers like, their drug, rehabilitation and job training programs.

"You especially think we can feed a person for $2. We can house someone for $13 a night. Then, You start to add up the dump fees that can amount to thousands of dollars a month and then you start to think wow, this fee is eating up a large portion of the good that can be done in this community," said Capt. Canning.

Goodwill stores across the CSRA and Middle Georgia say this year they spent a total of $350,000 dollars on disposing of trash.

"Those types of things that we then have to pay to dispose of them. Then that takes money away from giving people a hand up," said the President of Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia and the Central Savannah River Area, James Stiff.

"The point of what we are trying to do is help those individuals in need. Sometimes those donations actually cost us money and take food and clothing off of people's backs," said Capt. Canning.

The old saying: one man's trash is another man's treasure is not always true.

In this case, one man's trash is robbing the community of the help they need.

The Salvation Army says their goal is to put 20% of the stores' profits into the free programs they offer.

The Salvation Army and Goodwill Industries say the big no-nos are:

  • Broken furniture and appliances

  • Mattresses

  • Ripped Clothing

  • Broken electronics