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The Real Deal: A Battle over Donation Boxes

GLENVILLE – It’s a battle over boxes in the Town of Glenville.  We’ve all seen charity donation boxes stationed at local businesses but in Glenville, you may not see them for long.  The Town says too many of them have been popping up lately and they’re becoming an eyesore but business owners who say they’re just trying to help local charities say the town is overstepping its bounds. 

Mark Shaver is the owner of High Mills Garage in Glenville.  “Northeast Parent & Child Society came to me about two years ago and asked me because of my location on Route 50, can we put a box in front of your garage, I said sure,” he tells CBS6.  He says he hadn’t run into any issues until a few weeks ago when he got a letter from the town of Glenville Building Inspector, “basically, it said…it's going to cost you money to get a permit to have it, which I think is ridiculous, it's a charity,” Shaver says.

But even with a permit which comes at a fee of $150 for three months, the boxes can only stay for 90 days and then they’ve got to go according to the letter sent to Glenville businesses who allow boxes on their property.  Audrey Osterlitz says she donates frequently at one of the boxes by Mail N More, “I use these all the time, we're always here--it's such a great thing so I don't know, I'm upset about it…it's so nice to have them here and the stuff is recycled, I mean it's a win-win for everybody, why would they ban this?” she asks. 

Glenville Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle tells CBS6 that it’s the town’s job to maintain standards.  “This is becoming a new problem for towns and we've received quite a few complaints about the pods in people's yards and these boxes…with the charity boxes in particular, a lot of times someone will come and if it's full or if they don't feel like putting it in, they'll lay stuff on the ground, so there is some littering issues, some hazardous materials we've been noticing sometimes too, so there is a public and health issue,” Koetzle says. 

But Shaver and other local business owners with the blue, Northeast boxes tell CBS6, the people in charge of cleaning them out have always been on top of it, “They've been very good about maintaining it, keeping it clean, they come in the winter-time and shovel around it, so I don't even have to worry about it,” Shaver says. 

American Clothing Recycling Co., based in Glens Falls owns the boxes.  They collect the donations, sell the clothing to distributors within the USA and to third world countries and then give Northeast Parent & Child a portion of the proceeds.  Currently, American Clothing has boxes in Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Warren, Washington, Essex, Clinton, Columbia, Fulton, Greene, Montgomery & Schoharie counties and this is apparently the first time they’ve run into a permitting issue with a town. 

In a statement to CBS6, a spokesman for Northeast Parent & Child says, “donations from American Clothing are the source of funding for Northeast’s “Shop on Park”, a free thrift store/food pantry for our clients. Their donations enable us to pay the rent, utilities and operating costs for a program that provides food and clothing to hundreds of individuals in need.”

“I think right now the board is in discussion to amend this to make everybody at least somewhat happy,” Koetzle says but he doesn’t anticipate a compromise that would allow the boxes to be at the same business for more than a year. The town will continue to discuss the matter at a June 12th board meeting according to Koetzle.

CBS6 reached out to a number of other local municipalities to see whether they had specific regulations pertaining to these charity boxes.  Most tell us they do not but if they get a complaint about an over-flowing or deteriorating box, they would bring it to the attention of the business owner.

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