The City of Hamlet has successfully ousted the controversial clothing collection bins from the city limits, and its extra-territorial zoning jurisdiction.
The city is the first municipality in Richmond County to take action against the organizations that set up donation boxes outside of many businesses.
Gail Strickland, who works with the code enforcement officers for the city, reported Friday that all of the collection bins that she was aware of are now gone — about a half dozen of the boxes scattered around town are history.
“That includes both the blue and the yellow bins,” said Strickland.
Strickland sent a certified letter to the company Planet Aid, which owns the yellow donation bins, stating that the containers were placed without proper documentation from the City of Hamlet Zoning Department or Business License Office.
“I could never find a mailing address for Missions of Hope (which owns the blue donation bins) so I called them to remove those boxes,” she said. “I left several messages before finally speaking with someone.”
Strickland also sent letters to property owners, explaining why boxes in the city were going to be removed.
“Some of the property owners didn’t even realize the boxes were on their properties,” said Strickland.
Controversy has continued to grow around the boxes, because profits are made from the sale of the donated clothing — but none of the money stays in the county and local thrift stores and charitable groups have noticed that their donations have declined. Local government officials have been studying ways to regulate the donation boxes.
“I was very happy to see the donation boxes leave our area,” said Kim Lindsey, who owns Vector Shirts in Hamlet. “It was surprising to learn how much time was required to have these removed. Hamlet’s code enforcement officer (Strickland) worked extremely hard to follow the proper procedures to ensure these boxes were removed and will not return.”
Another business owner in Hamlet was glad to see the boxes go as well.
“I’ve been sharing information with people since they first arrived — letting them know that the donations are sold for profit, and very little money even goes to charity here or anywhere else,” said Deb Roberts, owner of The Yard Sale thrift store in Hamlet.
“Also, the thrift stores in Hamlet — like my store and The Grab — are not allowed to set out donation bins,” she added. “So it only makes sense that the same rules should be applied to another company wanting to come in and set them out.”
— Staff Writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.