Charity Organizations Used as a Dumping Ground

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

It's an escalating problem for New Mexico and Texas charities, the donation centers are becoming dumping grounds for people not wanting to make the trip to the landfill.

Trash is filling up the donation lots and causing huge headaches for the volunteers.

"I was pretty disgusted," Mary Hardin, Executive Director of Helping Hands, said.

About half of everything that's donated to Helping Hands isn't even usable, and not only is it time consuming for volunteers to clean up the mess, it's a big expense to take it out to the landfills.

"This parking lot is probably comparable with Walmart at 3-4:00 in the morning," Hardin said. "There's just people driving up, going through bags, it's really horrible."

Helping Hands says the cost for handling the clean-up is well over $100,000.

"There's also people who are trying to save a buck and not have to pay that fee at the dump so the sun goes down and they come and drop it off," Hardin said.

They use a donated hydraulic trailer 4 times a week to take the trash out to the dump. And the mess means extra work for Midland volunteers.

"It's such a horrible waste of their time," Hardin said. "They're coming down here to try to help the poor help the needy, and what they end up having to do is spending hours of their time dropping trash at the dump."

The Executive Director says some donators may have good intentions, but the problems just keep piling up.

"A lot of the stuff we get is really nice, but then there is two legged chairs, and urine soaked mattresses, and desks with no drawers in them," she said.

It's gotten so bad the City of Midland sends officers twice a week to check the donation center. They've also donated manpower, bins, and trucks to help with the cleanup.

"Helping Hands is probably the worst one just because of the location," Midland Solid Waste Superintendent Morris Williams, said. "We have been to all of them at one time or another."

"If the stuff is good, we're deeply appreciative," Hardin said. "But when it's household trash, we're getting bags of household trash. It's discouraging."