'Tis the season for giving, but some of our gifts may actually suck money away from those who most need our help.
Op Shops in Merimbula such as Vinnies and Salvos help those going through tough times while Pambula's Op Shop feeds its profits to Imlay House for the benefit of aged care residents. But sadly donations in bad condition that have to be thrown away are reducing the financial help that can be given because the Op Shops have to pay fees to get rid of the rubbish.
Alison Jenkins at Pambula Op Shop said in the last year they had paid $3000 in tip fees to get rid of donations that were not suitable for sale, money that could have been better used at Imlay House.
"What is unsaleable is sent to landfill which environmentally is a disaster and also a big cost to this and other charity shops," Alison said.
"We very much appreciate the donations coming in and this is what has made our shop so successful."
In the last 40 years the Pambula Op Shop has donated $1.6m to Imlay House but Alison asks people to consider their donations and ask themselves whether they would give it to a good friend and if not, don't donate it.
"If it's damaged, chipped, torn, smelly, stained or balled it belongs in your red bin not ours," Alison said.
At the Salvos Op Shop in Merimbula they fill one large 660 litre bin everyday with unwanted donations, manager Janne Rasmussen said.
"We would love to reduce that cost because it's money that is not going to help someone in need," she said.
"A lot of people think we've got a washing machine and repair people out the back but if it's broken or dirty they just need to take it to the tip themselves," Janne said.
"Of course we are grateful for the huge amount of good stuff that comes in."
At Vinnies in Merimbula the bins outside the shop are always full over the weekend and there is a sense of dread as volunteers come in on Monday mornings as additional bags are left there sprawling over the footpath.
"Every weekend we see 20-30 bags of rubbish on Monday morning, Vinnies volunteer Margaret Trianta said.
"Sometimes 75 per cent of it ends up in the bins and there's a cost for dumping."
Vinnies can end up sending up to six 660 litre commercial sized bins to landfill every week and the costs come out of the money that should have been helping those less fortunate.
"We do appreciate the donations but it's disheartening when we're being used as a rubbish tip," Margaret said.
They all worry that over Christmas the situation will escalate as people clean out their homes, and ask people to think of those sorting through their donations and to be a donor, not a dumper.
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