For two months the Daily Journal has been following the growing controversy over clothing collection bins around the county. The yellow bins are marked “Planet Aid” and the blue ones are marked “Mission of Hope, Inc.”
Residents upset by the fact that the donations made to the bins don’t stay local have been working to raise awareness about the issue.
“I know everyone believed the boxes were helping us in Richmond County,” said Susanne McInnis of Rockingham.
McInnis has been visiting properties to let them know that the clothing companies are located outside the county, and are making big profits from the donations made to them.
It seems the efforts to inform the community about the bins are having some impact.
Bowles Furniture, located at 646 E. Broad Ave. and Fashion Plus, located at 436 E. Broad Ave. in Rockingham, are among the first businesses to take action and have the boxes removed.
“We got the number off the front of the blue box in front of our store,” said Bobby Mumford, credit manager at Bowles Furniture.
It took a couple of calls and about a week, but Bowles Furniture said they had no problem getting the company to retrieve the box.
“We’ve heard people complain about those boxes, and it’s in our best interest not to have something people are unhappy about at our store,” Mumford said.
It took two weeks for the owner of Fashion Plus to get the yellow, Planet Aid, box near her store removed.
“I saw in the paper that these companies are making a lot of money and none of it stays here,” said Yong Suecho. “I called and told them to take it away.”
“Now that people are finding out that all this money is being drained out of the county from these clothing collection bins, I’m happy to know that some companies are taking action,” said McInnis. “We should also support our local shopkeepers who make that kind of effort to do the right thing by our county.”
Bobbi Williams, of Hamlet, has been talking to Hamlet City Council members and passing out informational fliers in the community to help raise awareness.
“It makes me feel very good that these businesses took the incentive to take action,” said Williams. “We’re losing so much money from those things — everything from sales tax to donations — that could be staying in the county. I hope others follow their lead.”
The Rockingham City Council briefly discussed the donation bins at a meeting earlier this week. City Manager Monty Crump said the city probably cannot ban the boxes through zoning laws, however, city staff is looking into ways the city might regulate the donation boxes.
As for complaints received by Rockingham officials from local people who feel the blue and yellow donation boxes are a drain on the community, Crump said, “We are very, very sympathetic to their point of view.” Large amounts of donated clothing being taken outside of town and sold “is a legitimate concern,” he said.
Rockingham Mayor Gene McLaurin suggested making all clothing donations to the local Christian Closet in Rockingham.
— Staff Writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at email@example.com.