Mystery clothing bins continue to crop up

Clothing donation bins claiming to be for charities continue to crop up across Ottawa on city property.

Thanks to a tip from a Sun reader, a donation box was spotted Tuesday in the east end near the main entrance of the Trim Rd. park-and-ride station.

The boxes are not permitted on OC Transpo property, said city spokesman Barre Campbell.

The dark green bin has four yellow signs reading “CLOTHING DROP BOX Support TYN,” followed by a local phone number and the words “NO DUMPING.”

Repeated calls to the number only yielded an answering machine.

A city investigation is underway after four yellow Jubilee Merchandising boxes were recently discovered at Jack Charron Arena in Kanata. The company behind the boxes is not a charity: It re-sells the clothes for profit.

“The city should be taking them out and putting them in the dump, as far as I’m concerned,” said Gord Rennick, the local agent for Clothing for Charity, a Burlington-based for-profit company that partners with the Breast Cancer Health Fund of Canada.

“We’re upset about it because they’re taking money from breast cancer.”

Clothing for Charity has about 50 steel bins in the area, including Arnprior and Renfrew.

“We’re legit,” said Rennick.

In the last six years, the company has donated more than $60,000 to Ottawa-based charities, said operations manager Elisha DeKort.

The company helped buy a mammogram machine at the Ottawa Hospital Regional Cancer Centre’s Maurice Grimes Lodge, Rennick said, adding they’re currently working on raising money for the Queensway Carleton Hospital.

Other boxes run by Can-Am Environmental Services purport to help the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.

“They gave us a monthly donation to put our names on the bins,” said Norma Lamont from the CHEO Foundation.

But that relationship ended a couple of months ago.

“We asked them, by letter, to stop using our name,” said Lamont.

“We returned the cheques to them.”

Lamont said she recently noticed the CHEO logo is still on some bins.

“I understand it takes some time. We will be following up,” she said.

The CHEO foundation decided to cut ties, Lamont said, after learning the bins are competing with Ottawa Neighbourhood Services, a not-for-profit organization with strong community links.

“Every dollar counts. These boxes are even more important to them,” said Lamont.

At least one city councillor wants action on the bins.

“We’ve got to put a stop to it right away,” said Kanata South Coun. Allan Hubley.

In the meantime, residents can call 311 to report illegal boxes on city property.

@ottawasunkroche

http://www.ottawasun.com/2011/09/27/mystery-clothing-bins-continue-to-crop-up

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