Friday, December 7, 2012

Deerfield Beach to Allow Clothing Bins, YAY!!

This editorial (see below) ran in Today’s Sun Sentinel.  Good timing!!

At last night’s Planning and Zoning meeting approval was given to allowing not for profit (legitimate charities) to have clothing donation bins in Deerfield Beach.

Jim Moyer, mentioned in the article below, was in attendance and spoke about the need the Salvation Army has for donated clothing as did other residents and I. 

As you know from reading this blog, I have been pushing the city to do this for over a year, ever since they told the Salvation Army that they COULDN’T place their bins, and I saw all the illegal for profit bins around the city. We need to give our city high marks for making this happen. 

South Florida
Help Salvation Army, Goodwill help us
December 7, 2012

The Salvation Army and Goodwill Industries are good charities that do good work in our community, and they are in urgent need of political champions who will help them overcome the threats posed by for-profit companies whose copycat donation boxes are cutting into collections.
Turns out there's big money in donated clothes, with 70 percent of the world clothed by used garments from the West. So in the last couple of years, a slew of for-profit companies have begun placing drop-off boxes in parking lots across South Florida — at least 100 in Broward, as many as 300 in Palm Beach, the Sun Sentinel has reported.
In most cases, these boxes violate local ordinances against outside storage, a regulation reluctantly followed by Goodwill and Salvation Army, even as they seek changes to allow more drop-off bins.
The end result is that two important community treasures are losing significant business, and if the trend continues, the effects will be felt by local governments, neighborhoods and families.
For with your donations, these charities assist people with disabilities, help struggling families and put homeless people back on a path to society's mainstream.
And unless political leaders step in to help, we'll find a much bigger public problem on our doorsteps, one that calls for taxpayer help.
In Broward, donated clothes are the sole source of income for the Salvation Army's Adult Rehabilitation Center, which houses and treats 100 otherwise homeless men who suffer from drug and alcohol addiction. The charity estimates it's now losing two 50-foot tractor-trailer loads of donated goods a month to for-profit drop-off boxes.
In Palm Beach, Gulfstream Goodwill Industries says its collections are off about 25 percent this year.
It shouldn't be so tough to solve this problem, which is two-fold.
First, the charities need help getting their drop-boxes in more places because convenience is key to donations.
But the Salvation Army only has five drop-off boxes in Broward because so many municipalities have ordinances prohibiting outside storage. Only Davie, North Lauderdale and Hollywood currently allow the boxes. And during the summer, Broward County Public Schools allows boxes in four parking lots.
Second, local governments need to enforce their laws. These for-profit companies are flourishing without consequence, often by paying businesses to place drop-off boxes in their parking lots. It's no coincidence that the boxes are painted the same red-and-white colors of the Salvation Army, or Goodwill's blue, misleading people into believing they are donating to a charity.
Jim Moyer, the Army's donor program manager, says that when he alerts local communities about illegal boxes, some take action, including Fort Lauderdale, Deerfield Beach, Pembroke Pines, Miramar, Pompano Beach, Lauderhill, Oakland Park, Lauderdale Lakes and West Park. But Tamarac, not so much.
However, Moyer says it shouldn't take him making a complaint before government acts, and he's right. Because of lax enforcement, almost as soon as a drop-off box is removed, a new one pops up.
State legislation was proposed last year to significantly fine lawbreakers, and limit donation boxes to organizations that spend at least 50 percent of funds on a charitable cause. But it went nowhere. Meanwhile, local municipalities resist state legislation under the banner of local control.
But splintered local control has translated into no leadership.
We all have a stake in the success of the Salvation Army and Goodwill. If we allow them to wither and die, the social ills they help solve will fall into the public's lap.
These organizations need champions — from Broward and Palm Beach county governments, from the League of Cities and from South Florida's legislative delegation.
Model legislation is available that would require clothing recycling companies to register, provide daily pick-ups, regulate box sizes, ensure hurricane-strength tie-downs, impose fines for violators and require labeling to inform the public who's behind them.
The Salvation Army and Goodwill never ask for much. But they need our help now.
Will anyone step up?


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