Thinking about getting rid of old clothes by using a clothing charity donation box made out of wood? Look closely for a city licence on it.
If you don’t see a yellow-and-blue licence with a registration number in a prominent location on the box — and chances are good you won’t — you’re probably donating to a shady operator, and definitely not a charity.
By now, just about everybody has seen wooden clothing donation boxes at the periphery of a strip mall, near a gas station or on a boulevard, with signs on them imploring people to donate used garments to a good cause.
But hardly any of them support charities. Most were put there by hustlers trying to create the illusion of legitimacy, while shipping the clothes to third-world countries and pocketing the profits.
And some are magnets for illegal dumping. People who can’t be bothered to properly dispose of old furniture or junk love the boxes; they can “donate” their garbage, leaving a mess for somebody else to clean up.
We were reminded of the negatives about them when we spotted two in the past week, one at Tapscott Rd. and Steeles Ave. and another on Lawrence Ave., east of Morningside Ave., that were surrounded by trash.
Mark Sraga, who’s in charge of investigations for municipal licensing and standards, said there are so many illegal boxes that enforcing bylaws on the owners is a major challenge.
Many are placed on private property by fast-talkers who persuade the property owner they’re legitimate, said Sraga. When trash is dumped around them, the property owner ends up with an order from the city to clean it up, even though they’re the victims, he said.
Others end up on the municipal road allowance, but getting rid of them is no small task, said Sraga. A lift truck is required to pick it up and move it, while the city is required to put the contents in storage for 30 days, on the minuscule chance that someone will come forward to claim them, he said.
Almost all wooden boxes are not legitimate, said Sraga, who added that the city has a rule of thumb: “If the box is steel, it’s real. Ninety-nine per cent of bins made of wood are illegitimate,” in the opinion of MLS officials, he said.
Most wooden boxes have signs on them to create the illusion that they’re legitimate, he said, but a closer look will reveal that there’s no contact information, always a dead giveaway. Such was the case with the bin on Lawrence and the bin at Tapscott and Steeles.
Legitimate charities obtain licences for their boxes and make them out of metal because they’re much more durable, even if it costs more, he said.
If a box has trash around it, Sraga says to call 311 and the city will arrange for it to be cleaned up, or issue an order to a property owner to get rid of the mess.
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Source : TheStar