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Do you really know where your clothing donations are going? If you’ve been using generic clothing donation bins in your neighborhood, you probably don’t. Several shady companies are putting up these bins under a pretense of charity, only to sell the donated clothing for a profit overseas. This problem, which first became a real issue in New York City, is now popping up across the country.
So the next time you clean out your closet and want to give a (charitable) second life to your clothing, follow these tips to ensure that your donation is going to a legitimate place:
- Don’t believe everything you read. Unfortunately, several of these dubious bins have misleading or outright false information posted on them. When in doubt, call the number posted and ask where your donations will be going. Several New Yorkers learned that they were tricked by for-profit organizations when they called to verify the bins’ legitimacy.
- Go with what you know. If you come across a marked bin for an organization you trust, it’s always going to be a safer bet than a generic “clothing donation” container.
- Take the clothing to the nonprofit’s actual location.>/b> While the bins make clothing donation a lot more convenient, it’s worth it to go out of your way if it means knowing that the clothing will get to the right people. Drive or walk that extra 10 minutes to take your things directly to the nonprofit.
- Always ask for more information. It’s important to look into the donation practices of all organizations. Even if you’re very familiar with a nonprofit, ask questions about how they distribute clothing to needy individuals. Do they sell them at a low cost? Do they give them away? What happens if they have more clothing than they can process? Do they ever ship excess clothing elsewhere? Finding these answers will help you make a decision about where your donations will have the greatest impact.