Op shops in Cambridge seem to have been treated more like landfill services than charity organisations recently, with an increasing number of cases where clearly unsellable items, as well as actual rubbish, are being dumped at storefronts during closed hours.
Helen Singers, manager of the Cambridge Hospice shop, said each Monday her volunteer staff are confronted with anywhere from five to twenty bags of rubbish, and in the rare cases where decent items have been left, they’ve been rifled through and stolen.
Singers said the organisation does not want any items, good or otherwise, left at the shop when it is closed. Being open on Saturdays from 10am to 1pm, as well as 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday, should provide an opportunity for working people to get there during open hours. And a sign on the store front provides a phone number to for donation pick-ups.
Because items left outside are often soiled, smelly and unsanitary, basically anything left at the store front is sent to landfill.
“It’s a huge cost to us,” said Singers. “Donate, don’t dump. Our slogan is turning second hand goods into first class care, and the more that people dump rubbish on our door, the more we won’t be able to provide. We have to pay to dispose of that and we need all the money we can to provide services to people free of charge.”
Jumble Around in Leamington, which donates one hundred percent of their proceeds back into the Cambridge community, has reported the same kind of problems, with unsanitary rubbish left to greet them every Monday morning.
“Unsellable items are coming in daily, the worst stuff is left outside after hours… The more we pay for rubbish removal, the less we can give back to the community,” said Marianne Jarvie, president of Jumble Around, who reported that people had also stolen decent items left outside the shop. “If members of the public see people taking bags from outside the shop they should take a photo.
“We have phone numbers on our door for the public to phone us if they see bags left outside. We usually can be there in a few minutes. We frequently are phoned by people after hours wanting to donate good items, so we are happy to come down and open our shop. This way we are not having them stolen.”