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Residents continue to misuse Salvation Army sorting centre

'Every weekend it’s the same thing, or if we’re closed, they don’t want to go to the dump, so they bring it here … . It’s a little sickening'

Residents continue to treat the Salvation Army’s sorting centre as an unofficial landfill for their unwanted items, which has frustrated the centre’s manager.

Anyone driving past the 670 High Street West location during the Easter long weekend would have noticed a small mountain of materials deposited in front of the building. By mid-Monday, that material had been picked through, and most was scattered around the street. 

When staff arrived on Tuesday morning, they hauled in the items and began sorting the items to see what could be kept and what needed to be taken to the actual landfill. 

“Most went to the landfill,” confirmed manager Maureen Dunlop. “That’s what they do. Every weekend it’s the same thing, or if we’re closed, they don’t want to go to the dump, so they bring it here … . 

“It’s a little sickening.”

The Salvation Army appreciates all the generous donations that residents deposit at the centre, said Cadet Lester Ward. All donations should be gently used and able to be resold to another home. While not everything the organization receives is junk or garbage, residents should be mindful that if they leave items outside overnight, others will pick through the bags and take anything of value. They will then scatter the remaining items around the area. 

Operations hours

The sorting centre is open Monday to Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., which should give people enough time to bring in their donations, while an after-hours chute is available to deposit donations, Dunlop pointed out. However, not even those hours are enough for residents since piles of donations accumulate from late Saturday night to Sunday night.

The Salvation Army is then forced to pay to haul away the broken furniture and other debris.

“So how much are they (the people dropping off items) helping? Not much,” she added.

It took four staff nearly three hours to haul in and sort the materials that had built up over the long weekend. 

Residents should know that if they leave their donations outside the building over the weekend, most will likely become garbage by Monday, Dunlop said. 

“Wait till we’re open or put it in the chute. If it goes into the chute, it will go to where it’s needed … ,” she continued. “If people don’t find what they want (pawing through the pile), they pee on it and break whatever they feel is valuable, so we just become the garbage dump.”

This problem is not unique to Moose Jaw, Dunlop remarked. It happens wherever there is a Salvation Army location; conscientious people drop off donations, while others pick through the piles and make a mess. 

“Very rarely do we find anything of value after we’re done (sorting). And that’s very sad,” she added.  

Purpose of sorting centre

The sorting centre accepts donations for re-sale at the thrift store in Moose Jaw and Assiniboia, explained Dunlop, who has been the centre manager for eight years. The sorting centre has been in its current building for about 14 years, while it was further down on High Street at one point. 

The centre accepts just about any donations — in good condition, of course — such as housewares, furniture, clothing, appliances, electronics, books, and toys. However, it does not accept box springs or mattresses. 

Anything found broken is tossed out immediately, said Dunlop. Meanwhile, the organization ships any materials it can’t use — such as bedding or shoes — overseas or across Canada.

The sorting centre is important to the community since it gives items a second chance at life and helps people in need, she continued. The centre — which has eight total staff — also contributes to the Salvation Army’s overall staffing levels in Moose Jaw and Assiniboia. 

“But the main thing is it (the organization) helps the community because the thrift store is cheaper (than big-box locations),” said Dunlop, who noted many people need inexpensive items, especially in today’s economy. 

Some interesting items the sorting centre has received include antiques, ornate woodworking, books from the 1800s, war pictures, swords, and antique firearms. The swords and guns go to the police, while the sellable items and antiques go to the thrift store. 

Dunlop reminds people to bring their items inside the sorting centre and not to leave them outside if possible.