Salvation Army foils the junk-ies

Salvation Army foils the junk-ies
GIVING TO A GOOD CAUSE: Donations at the charity's five collection booths and from residential, commercial and industrial buildings weigh 10 tonnes every single day. Donated items are collected using 18- to 21-foot lorries.

SINGAPORE - Have junk to dispose, but don't want to pay a disposal fee?

Till last year, some people had hit upon what they thought was an ingenious solution.

They would call the Salvation Army's bulky item collectors, pretending they had something to give away.

They managed to get rid of their junk for free at the charity's expense.

That's why, last year, the charity introduced a waste disposal fee to address the issue.

After all, public waste disposal costs have increased over the years, said James Tian, the general manager of Red Shield Industries, which manages the charity's donations in kind.

"We have introduced a 'view-and-collect' basis of operations where our collection team would check on the suitability of the bulky items to be donated," he said.

However, such waste disposal cases make up only 5 per cent of the 1,500 collections that the Salvation Army makes monthly.

Donations at the charity's five collection booths and from residential, commercial and industrial buildings weigh 10 tonnes - about the weight of two Asian elephants - every single day.

Up to 90 per cent of these items are sorted and packed at a processing centre in Upper Serangoon. Employees there are made up mainly of senior citizens. They are helped out by volunteers. Other employees behind the process - from collection to usage - include those from prison, halfway houses and patients from the Institute of Mental Health, Mr Tian said.

Once the items have been categorised, they are sold through thrift shops, given away to those in need, or recycled.

While it is common for donors to give away clothes, books, shoes, bags, toys and furniture, odd donations also creep in.

These have included a boat, a van, a scooter, an opium bed, and even a rare penny farthing cycle - a bicycle with a large front wheel and a much smaller back wheel.

These unusual items are sold.

When My Paper visited the Salvation Army headquarters in Bishan, the stash of donations included a memory foam pillow and oil containers.

The amount of donations has been creeping up, Mr Tian said. There has been a 5 per cent year-on-year increase.

This is aside from the seasonal spikes from November to the eve of Chinese New Year, as people throw out the old to welcome the new.

Pamela Rodrigues, a donor and customer care executive, said: "During the peak periods, there can be thrice as many donations."

And to facilitate them, collections from the centres are done almost every hour during this period. Normally, it is done once a day. Donated items are collected using 18- to 21-foot lorries.

While there is no charge for collection of bulky items, donors are encouraged to give a voluntary contribution to defray the increasing costs of operations, said Mr Tian.

He added: "We would like to thank our donors for their dedication and effort made to bring us items that are useful and deemed valuable, day in day out - 365 days a year - come rain or shine."

jalmsab@sph.com.sg


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