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Goodwill says trash hauls drain funds

July 07, 1997

By KAREN MASTERSON

Staff Writer

Hagerstown Goodwill Industries does many things with its $5.5 million budget, including job training, custodial services and retail sales.

One thing it would rather not do is haul other people's trash to the dump.

Debi Layton, a Goodwill manager, said people come by the 223 N. Prospect St. building after hours, especially on the weekends, and dump their unwanted household junk.

In the last 18 months, Goodwill has made 716 trips to Washington County Landfill from its Hagerstown building, moving 792 tons of garbage at a cost of $60,000.

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"People kick stuff off the back of their trucks as if the Goodwill center were a landfill," Layton said. "We get people dropping off dressers without drawers and tables without legs."

"I have to pay my biggest chunk in tire removal," she said, pointing to stacks of bald, treadless tires anonymously left for Goodwill to dispose of.

Even if the surreptitious dumpers think they're doing a good deed, they need to understand that donations are useful only if the items are in good condition.

Layton's rule of thumb is as follows: If it's good enough to give to your next-door neighbor, she can use it.

Goodwill, a non-profit social service company, raises revenues by selling used clothes and furniture at its retail stores.

Spokesman Fred Nugent said the revenue allows Goodwill to run its employment programs, which provide unemployable people with a job, income, skills and a work history so they can move up.

Nugent said he's glad people think of Goodwill as a repository for used items. But it hurts Goodwill financially for people to cross the line and use the center as a dumping ground.

Junk dumped on a typical weekend includes broken television sets, doorless refrigerators, filthy and ripped apart mattresses, broken and stained couches and lots of old, torn clothes.

"I don't get household trash very often, although it happens occasionally," Layton said. "I got grass clippings in plastic bags once."

"Even if someone has good intentions by dropping off a full piece of glass, midnight sorters come through and make trash out of it," she said, pointing to large shards of broken glass among the backyard gravel.

Midnight sorters tend to be homeless and use the junk to create a camp under the Goodwill building. Recently someone dragged several ratty mattresses, wool blankets, a giant stuffed panda bear and a handbag into a four-foot tall crawl space.

Layton said she and the staff understand that people need a place to sleep, "but we're afraid they'll get cold, start a fire and burn down our building."

She said the staff clears the space once a week.

Goodwill asks that donations be dropped off at its Attended Donation Center at 151 Burhans Blvd. from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday, or Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Goodwill also does home pickup by appointment, receives donations at all nine Tri-State stores, and runs donation drives every Saturday. For more information call 301-733-7330.

Nugent said money used for trash removal could pay for three salaried positions, repairs on the 102-year-old building or job training programs.

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