Thefts, dumping put strain on Re-Use-It Centre 

Infractions have become a nightly occurrence

Maureen Liddy has been reduced scheduling staff to come in an hour before the Re-Use-It Centre opens so they can clean up the mess left by marauders the previous night.

Thieves rip open garbage bags full of clothes donated to the centre, taking the items they want and leaving the rest strewn around the outside of the Function Junction building. They load select pieces of furniture and sporting equipment into the backs of trucks. Sometimes they take everything. And sometimes they vandalize the site before they leave.

"These are things the public donates in good faith to our organization and to do some good," said Re-Use-It Centre co-ordinator Liddy. "I don’t think people would be pleased that their donations aren’t going where they’re wanted to go, to where they’re needed.

"The thieves are getting the first pick out of the donations, taking the items we could sell more easily."

The Re-Use-It Centre is operated by the Whistler Community Services Society. Funds raised from the sale of donated items support the society’s programs, including the Whistler Food Bank, emergency assistance, Santa’s Helpers, parenting and relationship workshops, Whistlers AIDS Resource, the Community Kitchen, the Young Adult Partnership Program, home visit volunteers, parent-infant drop-in, the Crisis Line (604-932-COPE), and the counselling fund.

Things like lamps, mirrors, small furniture items and sporting goods – what Liddy says are big ticket items for the centre that fetch a higher price – are the first to go missing.

"We make decent money for these things that goes to the Community Services Society. You just don’t make as much selling a two dollar T-shirt."

She is worried that many of the thieves are turning around and reselling the items to stores in the city, essentially profiting from a local charity that supports low-income families.

The other issue is dumping, whereby people leave broken appliances, sofas, and other materials at the site that the Re-Use-It Centre is forced to transport to the municipal dump with the help of volunteer workers.

"The Grocery Store and World Mark have been great, donating their trucks and employees to make runs to the dump, but instead of one trip they’re making five and six trips. It’s a lot to ask from volunteers," said Liddy.

While both theft and dumping have occurred in the past at the Re-Use-It Centre, Liddy says things started to get worse about six months ago. Thefts are now a nightly occurrence at the centre, and the cost of dumping large items has climbed to more than $100 a week.

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