Sally Ann saddled with $1M junk bill


Shame on you, Ottawa.

Thoughtless residents keep saddling the Salvation Army with so-called donations that turn out to be junk.

And it’s cost the charity almost $1 million over the last five years to get rid of it.

All too often, large items such as washers, dryers, fridges, and stoves are dumped at their doors.

“That just passes on the cost to us,” said Sally Ann spokesman Michael Maidment.

It’s no small cost: In 2010 alone their garbage disposal fees exceeded $186,000 — money that’s better spent on outreach programs and services.

Sally Ann, which receives about 2,000,000 donated items per year in Ottawa, isn’t alone.

At Society of St. Vincent de Paul resale centre, roughly 400 garbage bags full of donations come in each day, said store manager Sharron Ducharme. Much of it is too dirty or damaged to be sold.

“We do pride ourselves in the stuff that we give away or we sell so therefore we want it to be clean,” she said.

“What people take out of our store, we would actually wear ourself.”

All items are sorted according to quality and season.

From kitchenwares to long-lost books, once on the shelf, they’re given four weeks to find permanent digs.

“The fifth week, it’s taken off the floor, it’s done its duty, it went through the process, and then it goes into baling,” said Ducharme.

Items are then sold to exporters.

It’s a different process at the Ottawa Mission, where there are facilities for dirty items.

“If we can’t wash it or repair it, we see if the Salvation Army wants it. If not, we get rid of it,” said executive director Diane Morrison.

The Mission began tracking clothing donations a few years ago.

“That ranged from about 1,800 lbs. in the lightest month to 5,400 lbs. in the busiest month,” she said.

Across town at the Goodwill production centre, a standardized sorting operation takes place.

Items are broken down as textiles or hard goods.

Once they’re categorized and colour-coded, donations make their way to the sales floor.

“We have a rotation process every three weeks,” said manager Anna Burzynska.

After that, items are sent to Toronto.

“We want to keep the store fresh,” said Doug Brenner, regional director at Goodwill Industries of Toronto.

Dirty or damaged items are also baled and sold off.

“We try as hard as we can to keep things out of the landfill sites. Our slogan is ‘reuse, recycle, and recruit,’” he said.

Goodwill isn’t the same as Value Village, which is for-profit.

“Our missions are totally different. We’re competitors because we sell stuff to the same marketplace,” said Brenner.

Value Village pays the Canadian Diabetes Association for each piece that’s collected, said spokesman Ian Jeffries.

Regardless of the organization, too many unsellable objects are donated.

Acceptable things include dishes, clothing, linen, footwear, toys, books, and small appliances such as microwaves and toasters.

Different stores accept some items while others don’t.

If in doubt, call and ask.

Sally Ann garbage costs:

  • 2010 $186, 820.96
  • 2009 $177,830.33
  • 2008 $201,365.40
  • 2007 $165,082.54
  • 2006 $185,211.93
  • Total: $916,311.16

Money from the eight Thrift Stores are reinvested into various Salvation Army programs and services:

  • Ottawa Booth Centre (homeless shelter)
  • Transition House (18 bed transitional house)
  • Addictions Rehabilitation
  • Community & Family Services (assists families, children and individuals with items such as food, hydro and rent support, financial counseling, clothing)
  • Emergency & Disaster Services
  • Bethany Hope Centre (support for young parents and their children)


  • Clothing, shoes, boots, swimwear, belts, sunglasses, purses, jewellery
  • Bedding, towels, curtains, blankets
  • Books, records, CDs, Blu-Rays, DVDs, DVD players, cameras, MP3s, TVs, computers, stereos, radios, VCRs, VHS tapes
  • Games, toys, sports equipment, Halloween costumes
  • Winter coats, hats, gloves, mittens, scarves
  • Dishes, glassware, kitchen utensils, pots, pans, lamps, area rugs
  • Art, pottery, stamps, collectibles, antiques, knickknacks
  • Blenders, toasters, juicers, microwaves, vacuum cleaners, musical instruments, tools, power tools
  • Tables, chairs, sofas, desks, dressers, bookshelves, paintings
  • Bed frames, clean mattresses & box springs, filing cabinets, mirrors (**Goodwill doesn’t accept these)


  • Fridges, stoves, washers, dryers, freezers, furnaces, water heaters
  • Dirty or stained items
  • Items needing repair (broken zipper, missing table leg, etc.)
  • Household garbage & recycling
  • Weapons
  • Recalled items
  • Chemical products
  • Food

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