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Girard mayor wants boxes for donated clothes out of sight

Published: Fri, August 15, 2014 @ 12:06 a.m.

By jeanne starmack



The clothes-donation drop-off box in the parking lot at the Family Dollar store was neat and clean Wednesday morning.

At the side of the parking lot in front of the Everyday Mart farther down State Street, another donation box also was tidy and brightly painted.

But the boxes scattered throughout the city aren’t always so good-looking. There are times when Girard Mayor Jim Melfi has seen them a mess, with bags of clothes and other junk piled up around them.

So he’s asked the city council to consider legislation to ban them from the front of businesses to the back.

Even better, he believes, is if they would be fenced in so that any residents behind the businesses wouldn’t be stuck looking at them.

The legislation is in committee, and he expects it will be brought onto the floor at the council’s meeting in September, he said Wednesday.

“Fifteen years ago, the city spent $2.5 million to bury utilities underground in conjunction with the widening of Route 422 to make it more pleasing aesthetically,” he said.

“Now we have a situation where these bins are just out there, and they attract debris,” he said.

Companies typically pay $50 a month to landlords, many of them out-of-town, for the right to leave the donation boxes on their properties, Melfi said.

One company refused to remove its box after the business, a McQuaid’s gas station on Second Street, shut down about two years ago.

“From the gas station there was just debris everywhere, blowing in people’s neighborhoods,” Melfi said.

The city called the company, Planet Aid, and told it to come and get its box.

“I called several times,” said city zoning supervisor Pete Cardiero, adding that all the company would tell him was that it had the right to leave it there with the property owner’s permission.

But the business was gone, Cardiero said, and the property was in foreclosure. The city removed the box and threw away the contents. It no longer has the box, either.

Planet Aid did not return a call to its Cleveland office for a comment.

The manager at the Family Dollar said she has never noticed clothes piling up around the box there, and she doesn’t notice if it’s used very much or how often clothing is picked up.

That box is owned by an entity called the Children’s Disease Research Foundation of Fremont, Calif. It was unable to be reached through its phone system.

The box in front of the Everyday Mart is owned by H & M Recycling, a Long Island, N.Y., company. It could not be reached.


1cardinal(25 comments)posted 1 month ago

I'm sure poor people are also "unsightly" to the mayor.

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2Wade(5 comments)posted 3 weeks, 6 days ago

Certainly, Girard is by no means alone in its donation bin dilemma. Reports across the country say out-of-town nonprofit and for-profit clothes collectors are causing donations to dwindle at local charities. And, like Girard, numerous cities are grappling with some of these boxes causing blight and public right-of-way problems. In addition, some complain that non-local companies are getting a free ride ― paying no local taxes or fees ― even while little or none of the proceeds from their collections benefit the local populace.

There’s no avoiding it: if one wants to be sure about whom one is donating to, one must do some research.

After researching Planet Aid for 5 years, I am of the opinion that their arrogant attitude is typical. Furthermore, I have serious concerns over this so-called nonprofit:

1) Planet Aid claims to take better care of its bins than do its competitors, but many reports indicate otherwise. In images culled from news stories, Planet Aid’s bins are shown with donations and trash piled up next to them. In some shots, bins appear to be packed full while items strewn nearby seem to have been accumulating for a while: https://db.tt/VA83yfjV

2) Planet Aid has faced a storm of media criticism for even more disturbing reasons. For starters, the Chicago-based CharityWatch gave Planet Aid an “F” grade after analyzing its 2012 tax form and audited financial statements, determining that Planet Aid spent only 27% of its expenses on programs.

Google search:

CharityWatch Debunks Planet Aid's Recycling Program

3) A charitable spending ratio of 27% is certainly too low, but the actual figure may be far lower than even that. In 2009, WTTG News in Washington DC examined Planet Aid’s then most recent tax records and noticed many of the overseas charities Planet Aid claims to support have the *same address*. A list of South African charities was shown in example. But the South African Embassy told WTTG those groups are *not* registered charities.

WTTG’s investigation found that all of the charities listed in Planet Aid’s most recent tax return are controlled by the same parent organization — a group called International Humana People to People Movement, which, according to its own website, also controls Planet Aid. (Humana People to People is not affiliated with the health insurer 'Humana'.)

4) Worse, Danish prosecutors link Humana People to People and Planet Aid to an alleged cult called the Tvind Teachers Group. Five leaders of this group are Interpol fugitives wanted in their native Denmark in connection with a multimillion-dollar tax-fraud and embezzlement scheme.

Google search:

“Kindness into Cash” - exposé of used clothes company Planet Aid - pt. 1

[More info in the above report's description box; click ‘Show more’ while on that page.]

Thanks for the chance to express my opinions. Again, please research before you donate.

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