When people put old clothes in the used-clothing bins around New York City, they believe those clothes are going to charity. But The New York Times explains that is not always the case. Although most of the bins around the city have signs indicating that donated goods will go to the needy or to charities, city officials say that the needy do not benefit from much of what is collected. Instead, the clothing is sold in thrift stores or overseas with the profits going to untraceable for-profit entities.
The bins are banned by city law from being put on public sidewalks and streets and are removed once spotted by the Sanitation Department enforcement officers or reported by residents. But the number of bins has still seen a huge increase in recent years. In 2010, the city found 91 bins and in 2014, the city found more than 2,000. And the Times reports that this pattern is being seen nationwide.
Organizations such as Goodwill had moved away from bin collections in favor of having donors bring their items into collection points to ensure proper management of the items. But with the increase in fraudulent bin collections, the organization is now rethinking bin collections. Goodwill leadership hopes people will choose Goodwill bins over others because they will see the reliable branding of the organization.
When you make a donation, even if it’s just old clothes, make sure it’s making it to the intended recipients. To be sure your donations are used effectively, consider bringing them to respected thrift stores such as those operated by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Council of Los Angeles, the National Council of Jewish Women, or The Salvation Army. David Fields, Executive Director of Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Council of Los Angeles, explains: “Donations of clothing allow the [organization] to provide this clothing for free to the impoverished, through our free distribution program or sell the clothing at our thrift stores, which funds our programs such as homeless shelters, housing for homeless families, soup kitchens, food pantries, and a summer camp for disadvantaged children.”