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Idle, overflowing donation bin spurs complaints in Ionia

Posted at 6:35 PM, Jan 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-01 18:35:31-05

IONIA, Mich. -- You've probably seen them. Maybe you've even left donations in them. Well, people in Ionia say one donation bin in particular is being ignored and under-managed.

"It's a waste," Ionia resident Roxanne Thelen said.

Stacks of books, bags of clothing and other items surround the donation bin on the edge of the former Kmart parking lot.  Some of the items are covered by snow.

"It looks bad. There are so many people out there that are in need, and half of this stuff right now is no good anymore," Ionia resident Melissa Jones said.

Jones reached out to FOX 17 because she wants something done about the heap. She said this isn't the first time the donation bin has started to look more like a trash bin.

"I contacted them the first time that I saw it which was probably like a couple months ago and then just yesterday again," she explained. "Quite a few people on Facebook I saw had contacted them as well," Jones added.

The sign on the bin states the donated items are for a nonprofit called the Childhood Disease Research Foundation. According to its website, CDRF appears to have offices in Sault Ste. Marie. and California.
"They put that bin there after the store was closed, and to my knowledge, nobody gave them permission to do that," Thelen said.

Thelen works at the Kmart express gas station next door and said the bin has been there for years.
She said people sometimes rummage through the piles for free stuff and leave it even more disheveled.

"Oh. I've seen it a lot worse, lot worse. Where it's probably... I'm gonna say maybe 6 feet all the way around it," Thelen gestured. "The stuff is just coming right out of the chute, and you call them and they come whenever they feel like it," she explained.

The sign on the bin, which is now blocked by a bag, actually states not to leave any donated items outside the box.
It also states to call the number listed on the side if there are problems. But why isn't someone coming to empty this thing out?

FOX 17 called the toll-free number and left a message letting CDRF know about the overflow and to find out why it's an apparently recurring issue.

Thelen said, "If it's supposed to be donated, they need to keep a better I eye on it. Come and empty it every 2, 3 days."​

But the two really just want it gone.

Jones said, "There's a Goodwill down the road. There's a church right down the road that also accepts it. We have, there's RAVE downtown, the Christian service center. They all accept donations, and they give it to people that need it."

In 2013, the city of Grand Rapids banned donation boxes. Typically, the nonprofit who owns the donation bin would ask business owners to let it sit on their property. But again, they're illegal in Grand Rapids.

FOX 17 is waiting for a call back from CDRF.