A local thrift shop is consistently dealing with messes left outside the donations bin and dumpster, and the situation has become “overwhelming” for staff.
“It seems that people are dropping donations outside at night after the store is closed, and vagrants go through them and spread them all around,” said Mills Memorial Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Shop manager Marg Petrick. “Then they aren’t fit for anything. They go into the garbage.”
The store sells those donations to raise money for Mills Memorial Hospital and the Terraceview Lodge. Last year Petrick said the shop raised $80,000 for healthcare equipment and bursaries for healthcare employees. While donations in good condition are “much appreciated,” Petrick said the store is no longer accepting donations because of the volume of items they have to go through.
Even bags of donations that make it inside the dumpster bin are being taken out overnight, ripped open with items left strewn across the parking lot. Garbage is also taken out of the shop’s dumpster and mixed in with the piles, meaning those items volunteer gather up end up right back into the trash.
This happens at least four times a week, and Petrick estimates about a third of the donations the store receives end up in the garbage.
The shop has also seen a higher percentage of household garbage dropped off next to the store’s dumpster since last November, when the Terrace landfill closed and was replaced by the transfer station in Thornhill, she said.
“People don’t want to take the stuff out there and pay the $10, and our garbage has increased immensely.”
The store’s 20 to 25 staff mostly consists of workers between the ages of 60 and 70. Having to clean up so frequently has been difficult, said volunteer Sharon Mutschke. On some mornings she said there isn’t enough room to park her car in the driveway.
“I felt that I should just turn around and leave,” Mutschke said. “It’s so disheartening to go in and find a mess every day of the week… it’s too much.”
This isn’t a new problem, either — Petrick said they’ve dealt with this for years, and despite signs instructing people to drop off donations during open hours, the situation has only gotten worse.
“We’ve been through this for five years now at least, we’ve been putting it on Facebook and in the paper saying ‘don’t drop off after hours because this is what happens to it,’” she said. “You’d think they’d value their donations more than that? Or are they just ready to dump it?”
When asked about the garbage being dumped outside the store, the city said it was a private property issue but that if a complaint was filed, a bylaw officer would visit the site and assess the situation.
The store plans on filing a complaint with the city’s bylaw officer soon.
“We’re almost to the point where we may have to shut down for a week to have a work party to get ahead of this,” Petrick said.