Improper donations cost nonprofit thousands
Stacked to the ceiling with piles of donations, the Family and Intercultural Resource Center is spending thousands of dollars every month to dispose of unusable donations. The nonprofit has been receiving more donations than ever, but those that are not in good condition cost the FIRC $20,000 annually, enough funds to aid 50 Summit County families at risk of losing their homes.
“I really believe people were trying to do the right thing,” said Anita Overmyer, FIRC Development Director. “It’s sort of backfiring when we’re trying to raise funds for programs and have to spend it on trash pickup.”
Donations to the Summit Thrift and Treasure provide 35 percent of revenue to support program and operation costs, serving as the FIRC’s largest source of funds.
“We appreciate their donations — we really do,” Dillon Thrift and Treasure store manager Leti Diaz said. “We just don’t have room. We can’t take their trash.”
She added that the store fills up a dumpster every day with unusable items that are too broken, worn or torn to sell.
Overmyer said the FIRC’s top selling items are clothing, housewares and kitchen supplies. The store will also accept linens and camping gear, so long as they are in good condition.
“All of that stuff is really helpful for people who are trying to shop on a budget,” Overmyer said.
The store will also accept books, DVDs, jewelry, strollers, small appliances and sports equipment, though Diaz encouraged donors not to bring in ski equipment or out-of-season sports equipment, as there is such a large quantity of it in the county and it often goes unsold.
The FIRC cannot accept furniture, mattresses, cribs, car seats, propane grills, televisions or computers. Most donated electronics are either outdated or broken, and the FIRC cannot resell mattresses, cribs or car seats due to Department of Health Regulations. Diaz noted some donors had stowed electronics into the store in bags of clothing.
With the FIRC’s limited floor space, Overmyer encouraged residents to donate furniture to the Habitat for Humanity Restore.
Diaz added that the store often sees afterhours drop-offs of unwanted items, which are considered dumping under the law and result in a fine. Donation hours for the stores are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.
“The thrift stores allow us to adjust our programs to the changing needs of Summit County,” FIRC executive director Tamara Drangstveit said in a statement. “We are so grateful for the community’s support through donations and shopping. It truly allows us to serve Summit County families, which is why we are working to educate donors on how to help us put more money towards the programs and less money towards landfill and trash fees.”
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