Plagued by illicit garbage, Goodwill closes donation site

By JIM HALEY

Herald Writer

EVERETT – By the looks of it, south Everett had its own free landfill for five years where people dumped construction debris, rusted kitchen appliances and hazardous waste.

Now that dumping station is closed. Goodwill didn’t want to put up with it anymore.

This month, Goodwill closed its south Everett donation station next to Top Foods near the Everett Mall. Now people who want to give clothes, furniture and other useful items have to drive to Marysville or Shoreline.

Goodwill has donation stations and thrift stores throughout Puget Sound, but south Everett Goodwill "had a terrible problem with garbage," Goodwill spokeswoman Alice Braverman said.

"It was so costly with us disposing of the garbage we could no longer afford to run it," she said.

An attendant was on duty during the daytime hours to accept and screen materials, but the worst of the stuff came in midnight dumping – people too lazy or too cheap to dispose of garbage in the proper way, officials said.

Old roofing shingles, paint, used motor oil and bags of yard clippings were common, Braverman said.

The garbage dumped there cost Goodwill thousands of dollars for proper disposal. Goodwill would rather spend that money on the adult education and employment training programs that it offers, officials said.

Goodwill, Volunteers of America, the Salvation Army and other organizations insist they appreciate donations. Braverman said she’s sorry for any inconvenience from the July 10 closure of the south Everett station, but "it was no longer economically feasible to keep that one open."

The organization is looking for another store site in Everett that will be suitable for having an Everett donation station. The store downtown doesn’t have donation drops.

Goodwill isn’t the only organization that deals with junk.

About half the material dropped off at the Volunteers of America loading dock in downtown Everett turns out to be unusable.

VOA appreciates donors, but representatives sometimes have to explain that items just can’t be resold, VOA administrative program manager Marti Scott said.

"We try to be quality conscious and selective to the point we make sure the items we pick up are good, usable items that do have a resale value," Scott said.

Just as at Goodwill, people will bring in bags and boxes of materials that have nice items on top, junk on the bottom.

"We’ve had literally kitchen garbage" at the bottom of some bags, she said.

Sometimes people send yard sale items that nobody wanted to the charitable organizations. But the odds are good that the charitable groups don’t want those items, either.

Besides accepting donations of usable items at its main downtown Everett station, the VOA has trucks in the community collecting at homes when people call. The organization uses the materials to give directly to the poor or to sell to raise money for a variety of social service programs.

The Salvation Army also is afflicted by the garbage bug.

"We do request that people drop off material that’s suitable," Capt. Randy Mulch said of the thrift stores in Lynnwood and Marysville, and the church on Rucker Avenue in Everett.

Although most of the material is suitable, Mulch still has to pay for disposing of a substantial amount, he said.

At the Goodwill store in north Marysville, the problem of garbage dumping is considerably less than it was at south Everett, production supervisor Robert Presler said. Still, people do drop off items that are broken or otherwise unusable. His monthly garbage bill ranges from $2,500 to $3,000.

Some of the cost is offset by recycling metals or cardboard, but it still detracts from the business of helping people, Presler said.

"It gets to you after a while," he said. "It’s amazing because (donors) know that it’s garbage."

You can call Herald Writer Jim Haley at 425-339-3447 or send e-mail

tohaley@heraldnet.com.

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