New Port Richey goes after clothing-donation bins

- They're meant to be convenient locations where people can leave their donations at any time of the day.   But in New Port Richey, city officials say some of these donation drop-boxes have become eyesores, surrounded by trash that obviously can't re-used.

"Old couches, old TVs, not like the flat screens, the old ones," said John Simpson, describing what he's seen outside donation boxes.

"There's no reason for people to be dumping tires and broken up furniture at these donation bins," said Mayor Rob Marlowe.

When the New Port Richey City Council noticed charity donation drop-off boxes popping up around town, they discussed how to regulate them and hold property owners responsible.

"And then, I asked the question," Marlowe said, "is there a requirement that we have to had these things in the city? Because they are a nuisance."

The city attorney said no. So, the council asked him to draft an ordinance banning unmanned donation bins to avoid people illegally treating them like dumpsters.

"It brings down the entire image of the city," Marlow said. "It looks awful. I mean, it's just junk that is sitting out where it doesn't belong. It looks like people just don't care."

The mayor mentioned one trouble location to us at Grand Boulevard and Gulf Drive.  By the time we got there, the store clerk told us the bin had been removed.  We found others in the city that didn't have any trash issues.  However, one at Southgate Shopping Center had donation boxes and bags, including children's toys, scattered on the ground.

Despite the bad, Simpson still sees the good in those bins.

"What I've seen is donations, which people do need," Simpson said. "It's helpful for older people. Keep the donation box around for the people that can't get to the stores to donate."

Marlowe promises there are plenty of non-profits that will be happy to pick up donations at people's homes.

"We do citywide cleans every year, so even the junk you can get rid of," Marlow said. "It's not an imposition on anybody if we don't have the unmanned donation bins."

What would be the impact? The Red Cross, for example, said its drop-off boxes are maintained by a third-party company which sells donations and gives the profit back to the Red Cross. If boxes go away, they said it won't be a huge impact because the company will do pickups, instead.

Marlowe expects the first reading of the proposed ordinance to happen in about two weeks.

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