When donations become too much

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SHERIDAN — Many have done it. You clean your house and find yourself tossing things aside that you don’t need anymore, haven’t touched in months or simply don’t like anymore. But, you reason, somebody else might like it or find a use for it.

That giving spirit adds to Sheridan’s charm and often makes the city stand out among other communities.

But, that giving spirit can also create a lot of work and at times even overwhelm the local organizations and volunteers that help sort through and redistribute the items generously donated.

So at times, after you load up your car full of energy and goodwill to donate those items you’ve decided you can do without, you find that the local Salvation Army or Holy Name Catholic Church thrift store aren’t accepting donations.

Now what?

“Periodically we have to put a moratorium on accepting donations because we get overloaded,” said Pat Thuesen, who coordinates efforts at the Holy Name thrift store. “It gives us time to catch up on sorting and everything that gets stockpiled.”

But, she added, the thrift store would close its donation center for shorter amounts of time if people respected the signs put on the drop off bins that indicate no donations are being accepted.

“A lot of people don’t honor those signs and drop things off anyway, which just means it takes us longer to sort through things,” Thuesen said.

In the sorting process, Thuesen said many items have to be thrown away because they are in too poor of shape to be sold in the store. Many of those items are clothing that Thuesen said get baled and sent to the Salvation Army, which then ships them off to be recycled or used elsewhere.

While Thuesen manages the Holy Name thrift store with approximately 25-30 active volunteers, the Salvation Army uses a mix of paid staff and volunteers. But, Salvation Army Lt. Charleen Morrow said, both are in short supply.

The thrift store on Coffeen Avenue has had to adjust hours and limit the time and amount of donations accepted.

“We’re really understaffed right now,” Morrow said. “We don’t have the volunteers that we need to run the warehouse.”

Normally, she said, it takes six staff members and six volunteers to run the SA thrift store and warehouse. Right now, they are making it work with four employees and two volunteers.

Morrow said that has been the situation since about May, but it has gotten to a drastic point.

“We’ve put out appeals for more volunteers, but it isn’t working how we need it to,” she said.

Thuesen echoed the ongoing desire for volunteers, especially as the holiday season approaches and donations increase.

Both women pointed out that they are not the only two organizations in town that accept donations; there are many others that range from church groups to nonprofits like the Sheridan Angels.

The Salvation Army and Holy Name, it seems, are just the most well known.

Morrow noted that the Salvation Army will also soon kick off its annual Red Kettle campaign, and she said volunteers will be needed.

An event planned for Nov. 21 at noon at the thrift store on Coffeen Avenue will get the giving season started and Morrow said the more volunteers that sign up to help, the fewer staff members will have to be paid to man the kettles around the community.

“That means more funding that can go to social services,” Morrow said.

By |November 5th, 2016|

About the Author:

Kristen Czaban joined The Sheridan Press staff in 2008 and covered beats including local government, cops and courts and the energy industry. In 2012, she was promoted and now serves as the managing editor for The Press. Czaban has a journalism degree from Northwestern University.