Cleaning your closet? Check before you drop off donations, say P.E.I. thrift stores

Some Island thrift stores are asking people to keep their donations at home, for now. 

Some currently not accepting donations because of COVID-19 closures

It's unclear when Mission Thrift Store in Charlottetown might reopen, but in the meantime, staff are asking the public not to drop off donations at the store. (Wayne Thibodeau/CBC)

Some P.E.I. thrift stores are asking people to keep their donations at home, for now. 

The manager of Mission Thrift Store in Charlottetown says despite signs and notices on social media asking that no donations be made while the store is closed, donated goods continue to be dropped off outside the store. And with no one working there, items are being taken, or end up destroyed by the weather. 

"It just sits and it piles," said Marg Schroder, manager at Mission Thrift Store.

"Or people will come by and go through it. And then it gets strewn all over the place, which has happened numerous times. And then, you know, your treasures are no longer any good to anybody else because they're ruined and have to go in the garbage."

Schroder said it's a shame to see donations go to waste. She said she can appreciate that people may need things, and asks that anyone wanting help contact the store, instead of helping themselves to donations. 

Marg Schroder, the manager of Mission Thrift, says items left in front of the store either get taken, or damaged from the elements and typically have to be thrown out. (Isabella Zavarise/CBC)

She said once the store is able to reopen, donated items will be quarantined for several weeks before being made available for purchase. Until then she's asking Islanders to hold off on donations.

"When they say that we can reopen, then we'll make sure we have enough staff there, so we can help people unload their vehicles," said Schroder. "We'll gladly accept any donations at that time — but until then we really prefer nobody drop anything off." 

The Salvation Army, which usually collects items for Bedford MacDonald House shelter for men in Charlottetown, is also asking Islanders to hold off on donations for now. 

And Value Village in Charlottetown is also asking people to hold on to their donations until the store can reopen.

The manager of Mission Thrift says it's common for donations dropped off after hours to be rummaged through, and asks anyone in need of assistance to call the store instead of helping themselves to donations. (Submitted by Marg Schroder)

Another thrift store, Repeats, is currently accepting donations and staff say they've seen a lot more lately. 

"More than usual, probably twice as much," said Mary Matthews, one of the owners of Repeats. 

"I think it's because people are home and getting their cleaning done...they're cleaning closets and doing stuff that they don't normally have time to do," she said.

The store isn't currently open, but Matthews and her mother have been going in every day to keep up with the items that are coming in, and switch winter stock over to summer stock in the hopes that they'll be able to open for business again soon. 

Matthews said any donations received are put aside for several weeks before processing. She said anything that is usable is washed, as an extra precaution. The rest is put aside for donation or thrown away. She said she'll continue to accept items as long as there's room for them. 

"I haven't been told otherwise, that we shouldn't be taking stuff, so we've taken it all, with precautions," said Matthews. "As long as I have a place for it in the warehouse I'll continue to do it." 

Dumps currently closed to the public

Island Waste Management Corporation (IWMC) says drop-off sites are currently closed to the public — but they expect to be able to re-open them in the coming weeks, as restrictions around due to COVID-19 begin to ease on P.E.I. 

In the meantime, officials are asking Islanders to hold onto any materials that aren't collected during regular residential pick-up — until the sites start to re-open.  

IWMC will be doing its annual curbside spring cleanup of compost and waste over three weeks starting the first week of May. The schedule and guidelines are on the IWMC website.

COVID-19: What you need to know

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough.
  • Tiredness.

But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia, which can lead to death.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Isolate yourself and call your local public health authority. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested.

How can I protect myself?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Be aware of evolving travel advisories to different regions.

More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.

More COVID-19 stories from CBC P.E.I.