KELLY HODEL/STUFF/Waikato Times
Nelson area charity shops have listed five things they wish people donated more – and three they don’t.
The Nelson area is full of charity shops to choose from. Whether you’re a seasoned bargain hunter or just strapped for cash, these companies have everything a person could need.
However, while one person’s trash may be another person’s treasure, some charity shops ask their donors not to take this at face value.
Op stores across the country have reported an increase in unwanted dumps during the pandemic – with most being forced to bear the cost of disposing of these unusable items themselves.
Things Journalist Frances Chin asked local charity shops and food banks which items were needed – and which just aren’t.
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Towels are one item that SPCA stores never seem to have enough of, said South Island store and retail manager Louise Hoather.
Despite the common misconception that most people would be unwilling to buy used pads, many people seek to purchase pads from charity stores to use on their pets.
Not necessary: animal training aids
The SPCA cannot accept donations of animal training aids like electronic training collars and choke chains, Hoather said.
The charity advises pet owners against using these devices and therefore cannot sell these items or accept them as donations. SPCA op stores also do not accept donations products of animal origin which they advise against, such as fur.
Required: Men’s clothing
Men’s clothing is “always flying off the shelves,” said Dianne Timbs, store manager of Hospice Shop Nelson. Men’s jackets, jerseys, shirts and pants are still in high demand in the charity store as fewer of these items are being donated.
This may be due to men’s tendency to indulge less in fast fashion – tending to hold onto their clothes much longer.
Not necessary: dirty clothes and broken objects
Donated clothing must be clean and in good condition, Timbs said. If they are dirty, torn, missing buttons or have a broken zipper, they cannot be sold and should not be given away.
Similarly, donated items must be “fit for purpose”. For example, tables without legs or chipped crockery would not sell and therefore should not be donated to the charity shop.
“If it was something you couldn’t use at home, don’t donate it.”
Needed: furniture items
With stores like The Warehouse and Kmart selling inexpensive do-it-yourself furniture, solidly made furniture was seen less and less in charity shops, Timbs said.
Despite this, furniture was still in high demand, especially by young people looking to furnish their hostel apartments and rooms. Chests of drawers, especially, have always sold out quickly. Small pieces of furniture such as coffee tables and bedside tables were always needed, Hoather said.
Needed: Fresh meat and dairy products
The two food items the food bank project lacked the most were fresh meat and dairy products, said Salvation Army Community Ministries Team Leader Richard Currie. Cheese, milk and meat such as hash and sausages were the biggest shortfalls for the food bank, which had provided 356 parcels so far this year to people in the Nelson Tasman area. However, thanks to the food bank’s new donation system that allowed people to buy $20 food parcels, these shortfalls were less common.
Not necessary: pasta sauce and oats (but they will take them anyway)
In the past, the food bank had a large backlog of bottles of pasta sauce and packets of oats, Currie said. While the food bank would accept any donation of unopened pre-packaged food, these two items did not necessarily meet the needs of the homeless community due to the preparation required before eating.
Above all, volunteers were needed to help run the operation stores, Hoather said.
Due to the pandemic, people seemed to have less time to volunteer, leaving op-shops desperately short of volunteer staff.
“We can ask for more donations, but if we don’t have enough volunteers, we can’t register them. That makes it more difficult.”
John and Janice Milligan run Foodbank Canterbury, which collects healthy and nutritious surplus food from all sectors of the food industry and redistributes it to charities. (First published on December 18, 2020)