Companies Cashing in on Clothing Donations


by Elizabeth Fay

WAUKESHA-- "These for profit companies take advantage of people's good nature," says Donations Manager at St. Vincent De Paul of Waukesha, Rod Colburn.

He is talking about some of the companies behind clothing collection boxes like Operation Green and Second Chance.

The boxes are set up in retail locations as a convinent way to get rid of unwanted clothes and shoes. Both companies are commerical businesses, but if you don't look closely you may think otherwise. Second Chance uses COA Youth & Family's logo on some of its boxes because it donates money to that non-profit, but Colburn says it's deceptive.

"They actually think they are donating to a charity," he says. "The for profit companies collect those and sell them to a broker that is then sold to either thift stores or third world countries throughout the world."

Toni Koehler filed a complaint against Operation Green with the Better Business Bureau after she says she felt decieved after donating clothes, "I was under the impression they would go straight to the needy."

Executive Vice President of the Wisconsin BBB, Liz Fredrichs says before making a donation, be sure to do your homework. "If it isn't easy to determine where is the donation going, where is the money going, and how is it being utilized that's a red flag," she says.


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