Drop Box Donations Hurting Local Charities

Local charities are being hurt by clothing collection bins placed in parking lots advertising charitable benefit. Ernie Carnavale, Jr., Executive Director of Blue Ridge Hospice, told the Berryville Town Council last week that the large blue or yellow drop-boxes are siphoning resources away from his charitable organization as well as others.

One of four clothing donation bins scattered throughout Berryville, Virginia – Photo Edward Leonard

“Blue Ridge Hospice, Salvation Army and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have all seen a drop in giving,” Carnavale said. “Donations that we would normally receive are being siphoned off by these collection boxes.”

Carnavale said the collection bins have no local affiliation with any local charity and that the donated clothing is actually shipped to a nearby warehouse where it is processed and resold. A blue clothing donation bin located in an east-end of Berryville parking lot appeared to confirm Carnavale’s claim.

A sign on the bin states:

“The donated items deposited will be sold and after expenses Charity receives a guaranteed fixed monthly revenue without risk of financial loss. This revenue helps to further Charity’s charitable purpose.” (sic)

Carnivale, whose 200-member hospice staff provides care to over a thousand clients in eight Virginia counties and the City of Winchester, asked the Town Council to take immediate steps to ban the clothing bins.

“These bins create an eyesore and litter,” Carnavale said. “I request that you prohibit placement of the bins on private property.”

Assistant town manager Christy Dunkle told Council Members that town staff is working on zoning language to address the bins. Dunkle said that she plans to present the proposed ordinance for consideration soon.

Collection box in Berryville, Virginia offers only a vague description of who donated items will benefit – Photo Edward Leonard (click to enlarge)


  1. I was not aware of this. Good article. However, those bins are convenient. Maybe we should get rid of the deceptive for-profit bins and Blue Ridge Hospice and other charities can invest in some of their own bins around the area for more drop off points?

    • “…The donated items deposited will be sold and after expenses Charity receives a guaranteed fixed monthly revenue without risk of financial loss. This revenue helps to further Charity’s charitable purpose.” (sic)…”

      So, if the expenses exceed the amount taken in, how do they expect to give the Charity a “guaranteed fixed monthly revenue”? What if the amount taken in exceeds the expenses and guaranteed payment? Who gets the extra? Where’s the investigative reporter?

      • Bob Brawley says:

        the Washington Post did a report last week how telephone solicitating companys approach charities and offer them what ever is left over after the company gets their share. In one case reported the charity owed the company over 100,000 dollars. but it seem the charities are fine with the arrangement. I object very strongly that the fire departments getting out on the street and bum money from passing motorist. for charities not even associated with firemen. Like the Cancer Society.
        There are two of those boxes in the Winchester Walmart parking lot. Now we can blame Walmart.

        • I object very strongly that the fire departments getting out on the street and bum money from passing motorist. for charities not even associated with firemen. Like the Cancer Society.

          Well let’s hope you or your love ones never get cancer, Bob.

  2. While I certainly want to know where my donations are going and would like these drop off bins to specify that, I have no longer any sympathy that the local charities, specifically the BRH thrift store in Berryville, are seeing a “drop off” in donations.

    I suggest the “executive director” of the Hospice stores look into the following:

    Why are prices so high on items? I can go to Target and get some of the things in there brand new, for less money. I like thrift store shopping, but really, 25 dollars for a used purse? 5 dollars for a pie plate? I think places like the Hospice, Salvation Army, Goodwill, etc, need to be reminded that all of their items are donations, and higher prices will drive people away.

    We never see real “sales” at the store in Berryville. Oh, items may be marked down, but there are exemptions to these markdowns, like certain colors and “stars”; meaning I think that newer items aren’t included, and try to find something that is.

    How many items that may not be perfect are tossed willy nilly into their dumpster? Why not have a bin of dollar, 50 cent etc items, that, why they might not be perfect, would be purchased?

    Little decorative knick knacks for 6 dollars? Why not 2? This is not a boutique, it’s a thrift shop, but not for the “thrifty”

    This is meant to be constructive. The people are nice and work hard, but good grief, lower some of those overly inflated prices, please.

    • The $25 purse you speak of is probably a Coach bag or equivalent. I’ve also noticed that the more expensive clothing tends to be a higher end brand, such as Talbot’s. The hospice is not meant to be some side of the road yard sale. They are fundraising. Just like spending $4 on box of GS cookies. It’s fundraising. I have gotten some great items in the Berryville store for some great prices. They do have sales, just call and they can tell you the schedule. I have also bid on (and won!) some higher end items in their silent auctions. Money spent at the Hospice stays in the area and helps local people. Money spent at Wal-Mart does not.
      (And as a former PTA member who has helped with auctions, you’d be surprised at the complete crap people will “donate” so they don’t have to take it to the dump! If you wouldn’t buy it, don’t donate it.)

  3. Bob Brawley says:

    [redacted] Ripoff Report dot com . I’ve seen these bule boxes in other towns as well

  4. I have seen those boxes around town and they are definitely an eye sore (especially when they are overflowing) . I have never donated at the boxes, but have considered dropping things in there that local stores will not accept/use. Maybe thrift stores should put similar drop off boxes outside of their stores that way those of us who can’t always make it during drop off hours can do so…I just dropped off 3 big bags of stuff, but it took me 3 weeks to finally get it done since I would always forget until they were closed 🙂

    I also agree with CR. I know there are expenses with running the shops (electricity, rent, etc) But I rarely purchase anything other than books when I go to the stores because the prices are not much lower than what I would pay new. Honestly though it seems like a Virginia thing because when I lived in Montana & Indiana good deals were often found and the stores were over flowing!!

  5. Chuck E. Cheese says:

    Why don’t you bring more facts to the table to give a true reflection on what your attempting to prove. It says after expenses are paid a fixed monthly payment goes towards charity. Just like the BRH, I’m sure they have expenses too! So instead of coming on here complaining about another organization, bring the real facts and numbers and then the people can decide where their donations will go.

  6. How did they get there, and who approved them?

    • That is the real question. With all of the regulations on signs for local businesses I am astounded that all of those boxes showed up under the radar – and until now no questions asked.

  7. Orville Boggs says:

    I stopped at the thrift store in Berryville one or 2 times, the prices where too high. I could buy new clothing for the same price or less at walmart. I havnt been back since.

    The boxes are ugly, this is true but they are convinient. Years ago I tried donating clothing but it was such a hastle to make a drop off during busness hours (i work full time) I ended up throwing verything in the trash.

  8. I find the boxes convenient. I always take anything that I would purchase myself if i needed it to the Hospice. If it is in good enough condition, it goes to Hospice. If it is something that I would only wear around the house or if I was painting, it goes in the bin. If it is a rag, it goes in the rag bag. I think that Hospice is far more picky than to want the stuff one would put into one of those bins. I often wonder if rude people put trash in there. There are definitely way too many of them though. They must be profitable.

    • Want to Know says:

      Several people seem to think that Hospice simply discards items they don’t want. That is not the case. They have an elaborate system in place to make sure that nothing becomes simply trash. They pass things along to support other charities and keep the goodwill flowing. If only I had taken notes when this was being discussed during the summer at the Community Free Clothing Giveaway sponsored by Emmaus…I’m sorry I don’t have more facts but I’m sure they are readily available from the Hospice staff. And just as a side note, I may be able to buy some items for less at Target or the other big box, I would rather have gently used QUALITY items from a LOCAL business than shoddy quality from a BOX mega-corporation. And I didn’t even mention the good cause that it supports…

  9. life is good says:

    Before you diss Hospice TS, remember your loved ones. Hospice is a non profit organization that takes very good care of critically ill patients regardless of their ability or inability to pay. This is all, or mostly, taken care of by volunteers. The TS are purely charity organizations, and I’d entrust my donations to them any day. Purchase something there, it ALL goes to Hospice.

  10. @ CR

    It may be beneficial for you to do some research before you stretch what you think you know about BRH. I shop regularly at all the Hospice stores and find things in my price range all the time! $25 for a purse? $6 for a knick knack? Not unless it’s name brand, brand new, or vintage. Yes, some items are higher priced but for good reason. Just like other stores, they can’t just discount items as soon as they get them in. How would BRH make money for their dying patients that way? I agree with “want to know.” Why throw away your money on large corporations like Target or Wal-Mart when you can spend it in your community on higher quality items? It’s win-win! And no, you can’t expect the local thrift stores to have a place for every single crappy donation that rolls through their doors. 50 cent bins? Really?! Who has the manpower to do that or the space? The girls in the Berryville shop do a wonderful job decorating and they don’t want to clutter up their store with clearance bins. They have sale days 7 DAYS A WEEK and their inventory is always changing. Maybe you should check more into that or ask a manager for their input. I wouldn’t want the job of pulling all that stuff together but somehow they make it look great. People donate junk because they are scared to throw it away themselves. Hospice does have a wonderful system in place for items that they cannot use and they also recycle. One of their volunteers personally rewired a lamp for me with a cord from an electronic item that did not work. If you are truly unhappy you should certainly stay away from Hospice and shop at Target. I’m sure they have plenty of picked over, made in China clearance items for you to choose from.