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Charity tired of dealing with ‘dump and run'

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Despite sign, some drop trash at POM office

By Brenda Sexton

The Courier-Herald

Plateau Outreach Ministries leaders were shaking their heads in disbelief Thursday morning. Stacked in the rain under a sign in the alley behind their Cole Street thrift shop and offices - under a sign clearly marked “Furniture not accepted” - was a broken table and chairs.

The “dump and run” has become a big problem for thrift shops like Plateau Outreach's More Pennies From Heaven. Store Manager Kim Sadesk said not only can they not use the broken, wet, dirty or ripped items often left, but they have to pay to haul them away.

“My biggest gripe is the people who dump and run in the middle of the night or on the weekend,” Sadesk said. “Most of it is stuff we can't keep, and I think that's why they do it.”

POM Director Mari Roll said thankfully, they've had a crew of generous volunteers who often help out by taking the discarded items with them on a dump run. But if they aren't going, the money to get rid of the left items comes out of funds used to help families in need.

“We've been fortunate that our dollar amount out has not been that great,” Roll said.

“Really, 99 percent of the donations are great,” Roll said. “I just wish the dumping would stop.

“We are so appreciative of the community, which is so supportive of this ministry and what it does in this community. It's 1 percent that gets under your skin and causes great strife,” Roll said.

For the record, POM does not accept large appliances and furniture. It also does not accept items, like blenders, that do not work. Bicycle or motorcycle helmets that are broken are not safe. They don't want those either. There is no one at POM available to fix bikes with flat tires or missing handle bars. They will also not accept or use clothing that is stained, ripped, dirty or wet with mold and mildew.

“I don't put anything out that I wouldn't wear,” said Margaret Wright.

“We have a standard,” Roll said. “People in need don't want to wear coats with broken zippers and clothing with stains.”

“It's not just the dumping its the donations. I like the one quote I read somewhere, ‘If you wouldn't give it to a friend don't bring it,'” Sadesk said.

When donations, clothes for example, arrive at POM they get sorted. The gently-worn, “high-end” items - like business suits or career wear, for example - go into the store where their sale covers POM's overhead and supports the Samaritan Project and the food bank.

The next level goes to the clothing bank which provides free clothing and items for those in need. After that, POM volunteers try to find a way to make the donations pay. Sometimes the “Boys Ranch” will pay $2 a bag for scrap clothing it turns into throw rugs. The final step is to pay to have it hauled away - trash - a level volunteers don't want.

Roll and Sadesk said the best thing is for people to deliver items during business hours when staff can meet with the donor and go through the items together. Wednesday, they admit, is a bad day to bring in donations because volunteers are busy helping with the food bank.

Storage is also an issue at the thrift store. Often, Sadesk said, volunteers do want the donations, but may ask donors to hold on to them for a day or two, until they can free up space.

“We don't mean to be mean or offend you if we say we don't need it this week, can you bring it in next week?” Sadesk said. “We just don't have space.”

And, they add, if donors have nice furniture and appliances in working order they would like to find a new home. They are welcome to post those items on POM's bulletin board. POM officials are happy to work as a liaison between donors and those in need. But they do not have the resources to store the items or pick them up and deliver them.

“People are so generous, it's hard to complain about a few people,” Roll said.

Brenda Sexton can be reached at bsexton@courierherald.com.

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