In-kind donations up 50% at some charities this Chinese New Year, but trash among them is a problem

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SINGAPORE: More people are opening their hearts this Chinese New Year, with some charities seeing as much as a 50 per cent increase in in-kind donations compared to last year.

To cope with the increasing amount of donated goods, some charities have had to reduce other services and bring in more volunteers.

However, charities also urge donors to carefully sift through their handouts and not include unusable items in their contributions.

While charity organisation SiloamXperience has made “turning trash into treasure” its mission at its thrift store, the conditions of some donations are too poor to be given a new lease of life.

“Donation is not about getting rid of your rubbish, it's about giving so that the things can be reused and recycled, and somebody can benefit from it,” said the charity’s founder Janette Tan.

“If you want to throw away things, go straight to the bins.”

TRASH AMONG TREASURE

The charity, which runs its thrift store in Yishun, typically sees carton boxes piled up along its corridors over the Chinese New Year period as people rush to get rid of unwanted items during spring cleaning.

Unusable donated goods received that need to be discarded include mouldy play dough, soiled or damaged clothes, and broken items.

“It all boils down to education. We hope that people can understand that thrift stores are not a dumping ground,” Ms Tan said.

“We are a place where we put in our passion and our effort to turn what you don't need – unwanted things – into something that is useful.”

The Salvation Army experiences the same issues, with about 5 to 10 per cent of donated goods needing to be trashed. This adds costs for the charity due to disposal expenses.

“While we are very happy to receive donations – Singaporeans are very generous – we advise that they give us items in good and usable conditions,” said Mr Nicholas Tan, donation and customer manager of the charity.

“For example, if you see (your donated) items in a store, would you purchase them? Or would they be something you wouldn’t even look at? If it’s something you would purchase, then yes, we would gla...

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