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Donation dropoffs soon may be limited in South Hall

Flowery Branch council may ban such sites as eyesores

POSTED: November 1, 2015 12:31 a.m.
SCOTT ROGERS/The Times

Goodwill's Jim Chumley, right, helps Barry Ladd unload his donations Thursday morning at the Goodwill of North Georgia store in Oakwood. Although Goodwill relies on the dropoff system to collect their donations, other agencies use drop boxes to collect donations which may soon be outlawed in Flowery Branch.

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On any given day, you can find generous folks dropping off their dead or unwanted computers and TVs, old books and tired clothing at Goodwill of North Georgia’s Oakwood store.

Just bring it, Goodwill says, and for the most part, workers will take it.

“We are able to recycle a lot of the items that don’t necessarily make it to our sales floors,” spokeswoman Elaine Armstrong said. “We work with recyclers, and a number of them ... will come pick those things up.

Typically, though, “we don’t get bags of trash,” she said.

Options for donating items to charitable causes may soon get more limited in South Hall County as Oakwood’s neighbor to the south, Flowery Branch, mulls an ordinance that bans outdoor drop boxes not related to the property they’re on.

A final City Council vote is set for 6 p.m. Thursday at Flowery Branch City Hall, 5517 Main St.

Inspiring the ordinance are donation boxes, where people stuff in clothing, books and other items for a particular charity advertised on the box.

Over time, the boxes have become eyesores, “used by folks just rummaging through them,” city planner John McHenry has said.

“From my point of view,” Police Chief David Spillers has told the council, “it’s an invitation for open criminality.”

Examples of a legal drop box would be the book deposit containers at the Hall County Library System’s branch off Spout Springs Road or recycling containers at the Publix grocery store off Spout Springs, officials said.

At one meeting, City Manager Bill Andrew plugged Goodwill as one place where people could take their donations and “where a lot of this work can be done, perhaps more legitimately.”

The issue has raised ire from at least one of the nonprofit organizations operating a recycling bin in Flowery Branch.

“This is going to be worse for the city,” American Aid worker Arthur Bumburyak said. “This doesn’t give people a (convenient) opportunity to recycle. (The city is) just being counterproductive by just outlawing them (outright).”

Jackie King, executive director of Maryland-based Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association, has sent a letter to Flowery Branch officials concerning the ordinance.

“While certainly well-intended, this (new law) would ultimately choke off a critical source of revenue for numerous charitable nonprofits and hinder critical waste reduction and economic growth objectives.”

Goodwill of North Georgia, which operates in counties around Atlanta, doesn’t maintain any donation boxes, Armstrong said.

“We like to make sure that our donors are greeted with a person ... so that there’s somebody to thank them, just to provide that level of customer service,” she said. “It’s also creating a job for the individuals collecting those donations.”

Workers also help to sort and process the donations before they hit the sales floor.

There are a few items that can’t be accepted, including weapons, mattresses and large appliances, Armstrong said.

But that’s usually not a problem.

“The good thing is our donors are very generous and give us great items we are able to sell, so we don’t typically get a whole lot of items we have to dispose of,” Armstrong said.

Proceeds from store sales also support the organization’s Career Centers and other programs that help put people to work.

Gainesville resident Peggy Sewell, who stopped at the store at 3715 Mundy Mill Road in Oakwood Thursday, has been a steady contributor over the years.

“It helps me de-clutter, and you know it’s creating jobs,” she said. “If you put (items) somewhere else, you don’t know where it’s going — they may dump it.”

Sewell isn’t a big fan of the standalone recycling boxes, as sometimes “stuff is lying around, falling out (of the box) and is damaged.”

Still, she believes the boxes should be left alone.

“Some people may not be able to get to places like (Goodwill),” Sewell said.

Public meeting

What: Flowery Branch City Council taking final vote concerning outdoor drop boxes

When: 6 p.m. Thursday, NOv. 5

Where: 5517 Main St., Flowery Branch 




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