As Seen On News 5

Dec 10, 2012 8:40 PM by Siera Santos, ssantos@koaa.com

Donation bins: who is really profiting?

‘Tis the season for giving.

It's a time of year when communities contribute to those in need, but the used clothing you toss in those outside donation bins may not end up on someone's back.

"In the surrounding region, we have a found a proliferation of these kind of ambiguous, rogue donation bins," said Bradd Hafner with Discover Goodwill. "Sometimes, they don't have any branding or marking on them."

Charities often partner for-profit companies. It's for that reason that Hafner stresses the need for people to be aware of who and what they're giving to.

Organizations like Colorado Sled Hockey partner with American Textile Recycling Services (ATRS), who in turn run those donation bins you see in many parking lots.

"We weigh every donation we receive from the community there and Colorado Sled Hockey receives a portion of it every month," said Debra Stevenson-Peganyee, the chief marketing officer with ATRS.

ATRS couldn't say, however, what percentage of the proceeds is given to Colorado Sled Hockey, though it's estimated they give the non-profit around $3,500 each month.

"I know that we're diverting about 30,000 pounds of recycling each month from landfills in Colorado Springs," Stevenson-Peganyee said.

News 5 asked how much each pound sells for, but ATRS said they didn't know.

We also contacted another organization, Doing His Time Prison Ministry, with donation bins operated by ATRS.

Operation Manager Chris Mays replied that because of "contractual obligations with them we cannot share with you privileged information concerning the percentage of proceeds that we receive."

However, both charities say they are happy with the money.

As for where the clothing goes, the items are first sorted. ATRS says items will first be optioned to disaster-relief programs, but that's only if an organization asks. Textile recycling companies will salvage damaged goods that are beyond wear, cutting them up for rags or re-using them for thread or upholstery.

Your old clothing may be of no use to you, but they still have monetary value.

Be sure to research the organization before you put your bags in the box. You can also go to www.guidestar.com to make sure the charity is legitimate.

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