People are dumping more than just donations at Aldergrove’s Salvation Army thrift store.
Upon his arrival Friday morning, donations manager Barry Monkman, discovered a lump of “human-sized” excrement amongst a bag of donated clothing.
Frustrated, Monkman was set back numerous hours in his work day which involves processing donations for the store. All of the clothing in the bag and nearby items had to be disposed of.
This isn’t an uncommon occurrence for the store either, says store manager Dilini Amarasinghe.
“Since the day we opened its been happening – people have dumped damaged furniture or items we aren’t able to sell like large mattresses outside our gate after operating hours,” Amarasing said.
The donations attendant recalls fish intestines, used diapers and food waste among the unusable items left near the side of their store.
“Most of the stuff goes in the garbage,” Amarasinghe explained, “we cannot sell it.”
Two years ago, in June 2016, the manager recalls a late night fire that was lit on a pile of donations left after hours.
“It spread to our metal storage container where we store books, furniture and new mattresses we buy at discounted prices. The majority of items were incinerated.” Amarsinghe said.
Incidents like these detract from the net profits the store makes, Amarsinghe says, which go directly to the Gateway of Hope – a Langley facility where those in need are able to receive shelter, food, health and other supportive services.
The Aldergrove thrift location first opened on 272 Street in November 6 of 2012.
Monkman admits he fears “the very sorts of people we are trying to help are the very ones that are hurting us, here.”
Six gaping holes in the donation area’s chain-link were fixed just this year, from forced entry after hours. Each patch job on the fence costs upwards of $1,500 Monkman says, regardless of how miniscule the damage is.
“Every morning we have to deal with some sort of garbage or damaged donations dumped outside our fence,” Monkman added.
Mondays as well as long weekends – store employees report are the worst times for a build-up of ransacked items.
A 57-year-old local of Abbotsford, Monkman, was hired after undergoing two brain surgeries and bouts with blindness after suffering a stroke.
“I’m doing much better now,” he said with a grin, “but the dumping is frustrating.”
Both Monkman and Amarasinghe look forward to the day where they do not have to deal with damaged goods and garbage at the side of the store.
The thrift location is a part of Salvation Army’s Social Services division of stores, where proceeds from donations are sent to local non-profit initiatives, instead of being collected and distributed nationally.
“Our store has taken place of certain government funding that was originally cut some time ago,” store manager Amarasinghe said.
Aldergrove’s Salvation Army unlocks a side gate to accept donations on weekdays and Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. through until 4:30 p.m. The store closes at 5:30 p.m. to ensure “no back up” of donations to be processed the next morning.