Vandalism, Theft, and Dumping Junk | How COVID-19 affects The Salvation Army


Hello, I am a part-time employee that takes donations for The Salvation Army. I want to address an issue that has been on my mind lately. But to better understand the situation, I think it’s important to describe my typical workday.

The store that I work for takes donations from 9:30 am – 6:00 pm. My job is to take people’s donations with a greeting and a thank you. I also write out receipts for anyone who wants to get a tax deduction from charitable donations. Throughout the day, I load all the donations into a trailer. When 6 o’clock comes around I lock the donations trailer along with the entrance gate and then I go home. The issue that I want to address is people leaving their items on the property after the donation center is already closed down. 

Why would someone leave their stuff if it’s not going to be secured in the trailer? 

I think there are two reasons why someone would do this.

1. People have busy schedules and can only donate their items after 6:00. 

2. People have poor quality items that they know The Salvation Army won’t take, so they wait until the donation centers are closed to drop off their stuff. 

These two examples may seem unlikely but they’re not. Leaving stuff at The Salvation Army when donation centers are closed is a common occurrence. 

Why is it bad to leave stuff on The Salvation Army property?

  • When stuff is not secured in a trailer or dropbox it’s vulnerable to theft and vandalism. 

You may think that leaving your items out in the open isn’t such a bad thing. If The Salvation Army sells the donations to fund their programs for the needy, who cares if poor people take some for themselves? 

Well here’s what that looks like.

Thieves are always searching the donations centers when The Salvation Army is closed. It’s usually only a few people that scrounge the items. They rip open bags and boxes taking only the items that they want, leaving a mess in the process. As they continue to dig through the donations, they’re stepping on all the clothes that they left on the ground. Often times these individuals are not in the right state of mind. Sometimes they even piss on the clothes and litter on the property. 

When the donations are secured in a trailer they are sold for reuse. The money that The Salvation Army makes is used to fund the Adult Rehabilitation Centers (ARC). These centers are where people who are trying to recover from drug and alcohol addiction are given work and a sense of direction. Many of these individuals use The Salvation Army as a stepping stone, to kick start their careers in other felids. It’s a chance for people who have hit rock bottom to turn their lives around.

Maybe you don’t like that The Salvation Army sells the donations for a profit but there are still better alternatives then leaving your stuff out in the open.

If you want to give your items directly to someone in need try contacting a local homeless shelter. Just don’t leave your stuff on The Salvation Army property if it’s not going to be secured.

  •  Leaving items that are in poor condition hurts the organization. 

As I mentioned before people like to drop off their unwanted items when The Salvation Army isn’t accepting donations. People are in such a rush to get rid of their stuff they become desperate. The desperation from these individuals creates a dumper’s mentality. Meaning that some people are more than willing the leave their stuff no matter the consequence. It gets to the point where people are leaving items that are damaged and disgusting. Giving unusable items to The Salvation Army hurts the funding for their programs. This is because it costs money to dispose of poor quality items. Don’t treat The Salvation Army like a free dump. It may be convenient for you but it hurts a lot of people that depend on The Salvation Army.

How COVID-19 is Affecting The Salvation Army 

As you know COVID-19 has spread worldwide and has killed over a hundred thousand people. To slow down the spread of the virus everyone is taking necessary precautions. This includes social distancing which has resulted in isolation and a shutdown of all nonessential businesses. The isolation caused by the virus has given people a lot of spare time to declutter their homes. Some of these people are looking to The Salvation Army to take their unwanted items. This is bad for The Salvation Army because the donations centers are closed and the item won’t be regulated. As a result there will be more theft, vandalisim, and dumping than usual, which means diposal costs will increase for The Salvation Army. Since the thrift stores are closed as well, a huge bulk of the normal funding will asbsent for the programs that people use to turn their lives around.

I’m not asking you donate money to The Salvation Army I’m just asking you not to make the situation worse. If you have items that you want to donate keep them in your house until the donation centers are open again or find other ways to dispose of them.

Is The Salvation Army clearing this stuff?

Yes, The Salvation Army is using its trucks and trailers to clear out all the items from the donation centers. This doesn’t make it ok to drop your stuff, especially if its junk. The donation centers are still left unregulated for the majority of the time.

When will The Salvation Army be open again?

I’m not sure when The Salvation Army will be open again. It all depends on when the restrictions are lifted.

How is The Salvation Army helping people during COVID-19?

The people that are the most susceptible to catching the virus are people that are homeless because they have nowhere to isolate themselves. To help solve this problem The Salvation Army is using some of its locations as quartine stations for the unsheltered. Here people will be fed 3 warm meals a day and will be under the cautious care of The Salvation Army. These locations have two sections of bedding. One section is for the people who are showing symptoms but haven’t been tested yet, the other section is for people who have already tested positive for the virus. All of the beds are separated by 10 ft. Even with the social distancing restrictions, these locations are as comfortable as possible. The Salvation Army is using its resources to provide mobile shower and laundry units, along with toilet facilities. They have T.Vs and jigsaw puzzles to pass the time as well. 

The Salvation Army is also still trying to provide feeding assistance for anyone who needs it.


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