Over the past several weeks, my sister and I have been putting items in bags and boxes that we wanted to donate to charity. We normally donate items of that type to the Goodwill facility in Culpeper, and the friendly (and helpful) employees give us a receipt for the items, which we can use as proof of donation at tax-time, should we need proof. They also give us a coupon for a percentage off of the items in their store. The drawback (in my mind) to donating the items to Goodwill, is all of the bad press that Goodwill has gotten for how their executive makes a huge amount of money, while the employees are paid very little money. In contrast, the Salvation Army has a better reputation. So, this time we decided to donate my items to the Salvation Army, which has a location in Warrenton. We go to Warrenton more often than Culpeper, so we thought that donating items to the Salvation Army would work out just fine.
The process started out as a challenge. Although we already knew how to get to the Salvation Army location, we thought I’d use my smartphone’s Google Maps app to guide us there. I was thinking that maybe Google Maps would have a creative way to get us there faster, or with shorter distance involved. With my sister driving, we were following the Google Maps directions, zigzagging through town (instead of a direct route that we normally would have taken) up until it told us to turn the wrong way down a one-way street. At the time that it told us to turn, we immediately realized that Google Maps was taking us the wrong way, and we didn’t turn. But, that was rather a scary thought that we might have blindly turned down that road if we didn’t already have a good idea of the roads in town!
So, we ignored the Google Maps directions at that point, and continued on the way we already knew how to get there. Upon arrival at the Salvation Army’s location where they accept donations, we saw a very small loading dock, with the words “employees only” painted on the edge of the dock. On the walls beside the loading dock we saw a lot of “No Dumping” signs. There were several items on the ground beside the walls, and in front of the loading dock, and some items on the loading dock. We could see some employees inside the facility, but they did not seem to realize we were there. We could not see any kind of buzzer, or bell to activate to get their attention, but we decided to start unloading the car.
I put a few items on top of the loading dock, and my sister put a few boxes on the ground in front of the loading dock. Before we were finished unloading the car, a lady came out of the facility and before we could even say “Good Morning,” she started to scold us for putting items on the ground. She told us that there was “No Dumping” allowed. We told her that we were not “Dumping,” we were “Donating.” Continuing her scolding, she pointed to the “No Dumping” signs on the side of the walls, and told us that any item not placed on the loading dock itself was considered “Dumping” and that the employees were not allowed to touch anything that was not left on the loading platform. She said anything left beside the walls would simply be hauled away to the dump!
We said “oh, we had no idea, but the loading dock was full and there is no room for the items we wish to donate, so we were leaving the items on the ground in front of the loading dock.” At that point, a couple of more employees walked up behind us and started to move items off of the loading dock, making room for our items. My sister picked the boxes off of the ground and put them on the loading dock. My sister encouraged the employees to take care with putting their hands in one of the boxes, as there were some sharp kitchen knives in the box, and she did not want them to cut themselves. These employees simply said “OK” and started to remove our items from the platform.
None of the employees (volunteers?) at any point, smiled, or said “hello” or “good morning” or “thank you” or offered a receipt. They were all quite abrupt. This was very off-putting. About four hours later, we found ourselves driving past the facility again, and say a huge amount of black trash bags and items of furniture lined up against the wall, under the “No Dumping” signs. We wondered if the people that left those bags and items there realized that the Salvation Army would not even touch any of those items. How many people have been taking their items to the Salvation Army, thinking that they are doing a good deed, leaving them beside the tiny loading dock platform, expecting the Salvation Army will put those donations to good use?
Next time we decide to donate items, I think it will be somewhere else. I’d at least like to see a smiling face when I am donating items!