Fuck you, St Vinnies! Fuck you, Salvation Army!

I’ve had similar experiences – Salvation Army was positively indignant when I asked them to come by to collect a huge lot of clothing and small furniture. The St. Vincent’s Society from my local Church was equally picky.

Look, as much as we all want to help, I suspect the modern trend is toward cash donations – note how after the tsunami, every charity posted a link saying they didn’t want clothes or food, but money. Given that the great bulk of American clothes donations seem to be shipped off to Africa for resale (ever wonder why those Darfur famine victims are wearing Greenday T-shirts?), it’s obvious that (unlike in Dickens’s day), clothing is not at a premium in the U.S. So, charities aren’t going to try very hard to collect it. So be it. Either give your used clothes or furniture directly to who you perceive as the underprivileged, or send it straight to Africa, or whatever.

Reasonable, discerning people can still have differences of opinion. However, I agree with you here. Maxxxie, I’ve known folks who worked with charities, and groups that collect and resell things like this are generally operating on a shoestring budget, and what seem like reasonable ways to accomodate their donors are simply not possible. Of course the place is disorganized - essentially, whoever is in that day will be driving around. Of course they have to be choosy with the goods they accept - people’s perceptions of what’s still decent and useful differ, but those charities know what items are useful to them. When they resell an old sofa for twenty-five bucks, you know that they’re not making a lot of money once you figure in the costs of the trucks, the building, and so forth. Taking a sofa that would only fetch ten bucks would end up talking their money.

It’s undeniably frustrating. But I don’t have much sympathy for the OP’s sitting there, deciding what makes sense for the charity to do in this situation. Were they able to do all the things she’s asking, they would get more stuff. But they aren’t able to. They don’t have a big budget to work with. They don’t do these things because it’s impossible for them to do so.

Calm down, big guy.

It’s already been explained that it’s not a matter of “what’s reasonable” but rather what’s possible for the group to do. Their operations are not convenient for you. That means you can either get rid of your stuff some other way, or accomodate them. That’s the best they can offer. Even companies you’re paying for service don’t do a ton better than this - ever heard the ol’ “We’ll be there between the hours of 9 AM and 3 PM” routine? Well, in this case, it’s nice that you’re giving to charity but mostly, you’re taking advantage of a free service. Which is no problem, since it helps others too. But since they don’t have throngs of paying customers, they’re even less able than the fuckers at the cable company to accomodate you.

I don’t get why you’re so upset about this. They can’t help you because they don’t have the power to do so. No doubt, if they could pick up stuff on weekends, and dispatch vans armed with cell phones and GPS systems, they would do so. But they can’t. It’s fine to be frustrated, but it really does puzzle me that you’re angry. And it puzzles me moreso that you’re trying to explain what they ought to be doing, when chances are good that they know how to operate and there are very good reasons for all of their choices.

In other words, take a chill pill.

I stopped giving my clothes to the Salvation Army because I found out that they threw away any clothes that hadn’t sold in less than four months. I can understand that they can’t keep everything, but there are church groups taking tons of clothes to Mexico on mission all the time. Why couldn’t they give the extras to them; they’ll even take mismatched socks! Now I hand them over to the local women’s shelter. Some people have to leave a bad situation so quickly they don’t even have shoes.

Maxxxie, how about other charities who might use the furniture directly, like helping people with low incomes set up apartments? Also, my school has a club that holds a big yardsale with all the stuff that they’ve collected. They were thrilled to pick up my contribution, even though it was 8pm and raining. There’s somebody out there waiting to hear from you, I’ll bet.

What bureaucratic hassle? What silences, stalls, and blither? All they asked was that she be home or have someone at the home on the day of pickup. Even UPS with its massively technological pickup system can’t tell me anything more than it’ll be here before 6:00 PM. And if I’m not here, they won’t let themselves in the house and pick up a package.

Those of you who like irony will enjoy this:

During the telephone conversation with the Salvos yesterday, in which they told me they couldn’t accommodate my requests (OK, I will concede that they just can’t do it, no matter what; I’m beyond caring at this point), I told them to forget it, and asked that they cancel the pickup.

Tonight, I went to the old place after work to do a little cleaning up, and found in my mailbox a note from the Salvos telling me they’d been by, but the gear wasn’t left outside and that they’d tried calling at 10:30 this morning.

It seems they don’t talk to each other in the Salvation Army either. I’d give them points for trying to call, too, except none of my phones registered a missed call (or a voicemail). I don’t know what number they called, but it wasn’t mine.

Oh well.

Just a quick note from the other end of things here. For almost 6 years I worked at St. Vinnies in th eappliance department. My job was to test all the donated Stereos, computers, and a variety of small items. I can’t tell you how many times I have been shocked by good working (according to the person who donated the stuff) appliances over the years. I hate to say this, but it’s true people use St. Vinnies as a dumping ground quite often. I have seen a lot of stereo recievers for example literally billow smoke when plugged in on my workbench, “Working” Cd players with lenses so filthy that they don’t even recognise when you put a cd into it, completely clogged vaccum cleaners, you get the idea. I’ve also noticed a tendnecy when people find out that you just can’t throw out a TV or a computer monitor anymore, it needs to be recycled (along with a small fee) how suddenly the monitor winds up given to us. So we wind up paying the recycling fee.
I never worked on the trucks myself, but we had maybe 5 trucks that would run on a very tight schedule, not only going to peoples places, but also picking up teh contents of drop boxes. Since the amount of stuff that’s at the drop boxes is variable, there is no way to be able to tell exactly when a truck tasked with a home pickup in addition to the drop boxes will be able to get to a person’s house.

It seems to me that they would get more donations and volunteers if they ran evening and weekend pick-up. Most of us still work 9-5 ish. I used to volunteer with H4H. They were building on Wednesdays through Saturdays. OK, I get you have a Christian background, but think about! Pretty much everyone has Sundays off…you are turning away volunteers on Saturdays because so many people want to help, but you can’t beg enough people on Thursdays…I can’t drive for Meals on Wheels, I can’t deconstruct or ReStore with H4H, etc, etc, etc because they work weekdays only.

I get the feeling from some (not all, don’t even start on me) charitable organization employees (the people who are getting paid to do it) that they are so much better than you anyway because they are helping the poor and downtrodden and you are a mere computer programmer. Maybe I’m wrong and I am expecting too much help to volunteer my time and money and posessions. I find homes for my unused stuff or throw it away.

Speaking of which…I have an apartment-sized washing machine, the type that you hook up to your kitchen sink and can fit 3 pairs of pants in at a time. It needs a new home in the next month or two…any takers in the upper midwest? It comes with no promises, all the plumbing, and I would drive a reasonable distance (S Wisconsin, N Illinois, SE Minnesota, NE Iowa) to find it a loving home. It is in decent condition and stopped working once for no good reason, but got over it and has been working for a year since.

I’ve never ever put an item outside the house with a “FREE!!” sign on it and not had it taken. In fact, usually the person takes the sign as well. /QUOTE]
No kidding… there are plenty of people around here who know when the bulky-waste-pickup day is, all over town, and they toodle on down the street in their pickup trucks about half an hour ahead of the trash truck. Last time the Salvation Army gave us the thumbs-down on some of our stuff, we called the city for trash collection, put the stuff outside, and about 75% of it was gone before the trash truck arrived. We didn’t even have to put a “FREE” sign on it.

Maxxxie - It sounds like you’re trying to do the right thing. Unfortunately, there are tons and tons of people out there who view charities as nothing more than alternatives to having to pay the local waste disposal company. I’m at the local Salvation Army nearly every week making drop-offs (I work at a consignment shop, and we’ve always got ten tons of clothes to donate), and people treat it like it’s the town dump. I’ve seen volunteers get shrieked at because they refuse to take broken dishes. Someone left the lamp from their walkway (concrete base still attached) outside the store and just drove away. Unfortunately, you’re outnumbered. And nine times out of ten, the volunteers spend all their time and energy on the assholes. There’s nothing left over for you.

It’s also worth mentioning that, nice as your things are, they still obey the laws of physics - being objects, they occupy space. Your local charity occupies a finite amount of space. Sometimes, there’s no possible way for them to fit anything else in the storeroom. It doesn’t matter that your things are better than the things that are already there. They can’t make those items just disappear. The previous owners aren’t just going to take them back. When the back’s full up with boxes that you haven’t even looked at, what do you do? Do you keep adding to the pile, digging yourself deeper into the weeds, or do you start saying “No” just so you have a reasonable hope of getting some things out on the sales floor? I know what I’d do.

Lastly, it’s worth noting that most of the assholes really think that if they tell you their old, beat-up junk is actually brand-new and incredibly expensive, you’ll fail to notice the moth holes, massive stains, and colonies of insects that blanket the items. This is not to say that your stuff is crap. Some people tell the truth. But when your job is selling other people’s possessions, you get so inured to lying that you start to make assumptions. It’s not fair. But it’s an inevitable product of this kind of behavior.

In this business, you stand a better chance of surviving if you’re something of a nazi when it comes to what you’ll accept. If you take anything at any time, you’ll have tons of goods, but no shoppers. And if they bend the rules for you, they’ll have to bend them for someone else. Then for someone else. Then for someone else. At some point, you have to stop being nice to people. It sucks, but it’s true. You’ve got every right to be pissed - I just think you’ve picked the wrong target. Charities have the rules they have for a reason - to keep themselves from being taken advantage of by unscrupulous assholes. Pit the assholes, not the charities.