British Columbia

Donation bins turned 'dumping grounds' are hurting non-profit's fundraising efforts

The money the North Peace Gymnastics Club gets from sorting donated clothes is one of its sources of fundraising — but right now, they are actually losing money from the bins.

North Peace Gymnastics Club is actually losing money from sorting clothes destroyed by garbage

Bags of household garbage are being dumped in and beside donation boxes around Fort St. John. (Chantelle Yates )

A non-profit group in Fort St. John, B.C., is pleading with people to stop dumping garbage in clothing donation boxes around the city.

The North Peace Gymnastics Club collects clothing from the bright red Canadian Diabetes Association donation bins around the city.

The money they receive from sorting the clothes is one of their sources of fundraising — but right now, they are actually losing money from the bins.

"We have found lately that it's become a dumping ground," said Chantelle Yates, manager of the club.  

Bags and bags of garbage are being pushed into the bins, and destroying the clothes inside, she told Carolina de Ryk, host of CBC's Daybreak North.

"We are upwards now of 10 truckloads full of garbage and clothing that we've had to dispose of," Yates said. "We're probably close to $200 now in dump fees."

This is not the first time Fort St. John has had problems with recycling and collection bin protocols.

In 2016, the city issued a notice urging residents not to dump animal carcasses, mower blades and fake Christmas trees in the recycling bins.

The bins have been difficult to access during the winter because of piled-up snow. (Chantelle Yates)

Scatterings of clothes

The gymnastics club is contracted to collect the clothes and receives $1.50 for every nine kilograms of clothes that are sorted — roughly one large bag's worth. Usually, it makes about $120 per week from the donation bins and uses the funds for much needed club expenses.

"If you're not donating correctly, you're actually hurting people," said Yates.

This winter, the bins have been difficult to access because of the weather.

"We haven't been able to access those bins to get them open and get the donations out," Yates said. "It hasn't stopped people from dumping, though."

Oftentimes, perfectly good bags of clothing donations are left scattered around the outside of the bins and become ruined in the wet weather, she added.

"The donation bin is to help fundraise for the club and help support gymnastics in our community," Yates said.

"When we have to instead of making money from the fundraiser pay toward it, it definitely hinders our fundraising efforts."

With files from Andrew Kurjata and Daybreak North.