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Coronavirus: Charities warn that dropped-off donations are turning into garbage in Calgary

Coronavirus: Charities warn that dropped-off donations are turning into garbage in Calgary
WATCH: The City of Calgary is asking people to stop dropping off unwanted items at local charities and donation bins. As Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, some charities say they are now asking municipalities to help clean up items that are turning into garbage during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Calgary charities are asking people to stop bringing items to their donation bins and thrift stores.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused some charities to lay off staff and shut their doors. The result: items piling up outside donation bins will end up at the landfill.

“Well-intended but clearly misinformed people are just leaving things outside of the bins, which of course leaves it exposed to the weather and the elements, and unfortunately, just becomes spoiled garbage,” said Sean Shannon, CEO of National Diabetes Trust, the social enterprise arm of Diabetes Canada. Hundreds of staff were laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Diabetes Canada is one of the Canadian charities that stopped making pickups from bins in March.

READ MORE: Hold onto your clothes: Charity warns donation bins are becoming a ‘dumping ground’

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That garbage is now an additional cost to the already suffering charities.

Shannon said his organization is asking municipalities to help with garbage disposal.

“We certainly have a couple of examples across the country where some of the mayors and operations of garbage pickup have started to engage and said, ‘Yes, we acknowledge it’s either a public nuisance or a health and safety issue.’ Certain areas are starting to pick up this and take it to the dump for us, which really is what we are asking all municipalities to consider,” Shannon said.

READ MORE: Calgary charity gets thousands of pounds of restaurant food, donations tied to businesses closing amid COVID-19 crisis

The City of Calgary is now asking people not to leave items at drop-off bins or thrift stores.

“These charities will need these items after this crisis is over so they are able to keep running their charitable causes. Don’t throw away these valuable items yet. We are just asking you to hang onto them a bit longer,” said Sharon Howland with Calgary’s waste and recycling services on Wednesday.

According the Mustard Seed website, the organization is looking for donations of twin-sized blankets and men’s casual clothing.

The Calgary Drop-In Centre is still accepting both new and used items at its donation centre.

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“We have established processes to quarantine and disinfect items before they’re put into distribution. We are still in need of all furniture, kitchenware, clothing and other household goods,” said Sandra Clarkson, executive director of the Calgary Drop-In Centre.

READ MORE: Officials investigating how 2 residents at Calgary’s Clifton Manor contracted COVID-19

She said its greatest needs are backpacks, new towels and new men and women’s underwear.

The Drop-in Centre’s donation centre is located at 3640 11a St. N.E. and is open Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

City of Calgary landfills are still open.