Donation bins discontinued at women's shelter due to safety hazards
Published Tuesday, August 20, 2019 3:19PM EDT
Sault Ste. Marie's women's shelter has concerns over the bins set up to collect used item donations.
'Women in Crisis Algoma' is an emergency shelter that relies on donations and community support, but it recently had to remove its donation bins due to health and safety concerns.
It turns, out used needles are being found, some clothing items have been stolen, and fights have broken out at the bins.
"There would be people either in the bins or rifling through the bins. They would come right up to the donor, take the donations right out of their cars at times, right out of their hands. There would be people going through the donations and then fighting, full on fist fights breaking out right at the donation bins," said Erin Lodge, the organization's communications coordinator.
She says used needles were also found inside the bins and in the parking area surrounding it.
"One mom and her child came in one day, and they're the ones, it was the child who had seen the needles. So, it's a huge risk," said Lodge.
Sault Ste. Marie Police Service says they are regularly called to deal with these incidents, but often the suspect leaves before they arrive.
"I think the primary drive there is to make some money. They see an easy target with clothing sitting outside the bin, not secured, and they can probably sell it online or take it to a place of business," said Lincoln Louttit, of the SSMPS.
This is not only an issue in the Soo. Donation bins were recently banned from private properties in British Columbia following a fatal incident.
"We've heard reports of people climbing into the bins and dying in those bins, which is, on so many levels, just so heartbreaking. I know that they're looking into other options, for either maybe a redesign for the bins or in some places they've just completely removed them altogether," said Lodge.
She says it's a loss for the shelter to no longer receive the donations, but that people wanting to donate for Women in Crisis Algoma can now drop items off directly at the local Kidney Foundation.