In-kind donations up 50% at some charities this Chinese New Year, but trash among them is a problem

This Chinese New Year, in-kind donations are up 50% at some charities, but trash is a problem. SINGAPORE: This Chinese New Year, more people are opening their hearts, and some charities are receiving as much as 50% more in-kind donations than last year.

Some charities have had to cut back on other services and hire more volunteers to handle the growing number of donated goods.

However, charities also advise donors to carefully sort through their donations and to avoid contributing items that cannot be used.

At its thrift store, the charitable organization SiloamXperience has made “turning trash into treasure” its mission. However, the condition of some donations is too bad for them to be given new life.

The charity’s founder, Janette Tan, stated, “Donation is not about getting rid of your trash; it’s about giving so that the things can be reused and recycled and someone can benefit from it.”

“Go straight to the trash cans if you want to throw things away.”

Over the Chinese New Year, as people rush to get rid of unwanted items during spring cleaning, the charity’s thrift store in Yishun typically sees carton boxes piled up along its corridors.

Moldy play dough, clothes that are soiled or damaged, and broken items are examples of donated items that cannot be used and should be thrown out.

“Education is the key to everything. Ms. Tan stated, “We hope that people can comprehend that thrift stores are not a dumping ground.”

“We are a place where we put our passion and effort into turning what you don’t need—unwanted things—into something that is useful,” the company’s website reads.

The same problems occur at the Salvation Army, with about 5% to 10% of donated goods having to be thrown away. The charity incurs additional costs as a result of disposal costs.

Mr. Nicholas Tan, the charity’s donation and customer manager, stated, “While we are very happy to receive donations – Singaporeans are very generous,” “we advise that they give us items in good and usable conditions.”

For instance, would you buy your donated items if you saw them in a store? Or are they something that you wouldn’t even bother looking at? Yes, we would gladly accept it if it were something you would buy.

Mr. Tan added that only a small portion of all donations contain items that cannot be used, while approximately 80% of contributions can be used.

Coping with the usual uptick in donations over the holidays, charities said they’ve tweaked their processes to keep their volunteers and staff from getting overwhelmed.

Mr. Tan stated, “We actually scaled down our home collection operations and are fully focused on the donation booths.” Throughout the island, the Salvation Army maintains a number of donation drop-off locations.

According to him, volunteers typically make four trips per day between its processing centers and collection sites.

However, due to the increased number of items dropped off at its drop-off locations during the spring cleaning season just before Chinese New Year, volunteers have had to make an additional eight daily trips to the warehouse to ensure that the booths do not become overcrowded.

Because more people are also giving away bulky items, the work of the volunteers gets harder.

According to Mr. Tan, “aside from clothes, toys, and old CNY decorations… we are also seeing an increase in about 10% to 15% of bulky items.” Items with a lot of weight, like chairs, desks, and study tables.

To accommodate the increased workload, the charity has increased its volunteer pool, and some staff members have been working late to clear the backlog.

The Salvation Army’s thrift store usually sells donated items, with the money raised going to the charity’s operations, including programs that help the poor.

At SiloamXperience, donors must reserve a time slot before delivering their contributions to the center during the holiday season. This new system will improve efficiency. Additionally, each donor is restricted to five bags of goods.

According to Ms. Tan, the charity’s new donation-by-appointment system spreads out the arrival of goods and makes it easier for its volunteers, who help sort through a steady stream of clothes, books, and toys, to handle the reduced workload.

My volunteers are able to let out a sigh of relief. In the past, I’ve actually lost a few volunteers because they couldn’t keep up,” Ms. Tan stated.

According to the charity, the response has been overwhelming, and by the first week of January, all donation slots prior to Chinese New Year were taken up. Items that donors wanted to donate had to be kept until after the holidays.

Between December and February, the charity also requested assistance from corporate social responsibility programs to double its volunteer pool.

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