Pandemic spring cleaning: You're tossing, who's taking?

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic you may have time on your hands and the urge to tidy but if you're looking for your regular charity or not-for-profit to accept those kids toys, books or old clothes right now, you're likely out of luck. 

Most thrift stores and charity organizations aren't accepting donations during the pandemic. 

"This virus has caused chaos in the province of Alberta. We've had to temporarily close our doors," said Doug Roxburgh, spokesperson for Goodwill Industries of Alberta. 

Adrienne Lamb/CBC

Roxburgh says the temporary closure is an unprecedented move in Goodwill's 60-year history.

In an interview on CBC Radio's Daybreak Alberta, Roxburgh said Goodwill has laid off almost all of its 800 employees and is now working with a "skeleton crew".

"We're not taking donations for a couple of reasons; the health and safety of our staff and the health and safety of our donors coming in," he said.

Roxburgh is discouraging people from dropping and dashing at their closed donation sites, something he says they're already starting to see happen.  

"Don't use our sites as a dumping ground, just hold onto your donations for now because you're going to be helping people when this is all said and done, and at the end of the day that's what Albertans do," he said.

Thrift closures

But Goodwill is not alone. Roxburgh points to other organizations like Value Village, Salvation Army, Bissell Centre Thrift Shop, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Thrift Shops, who are all not accepting donations as a result of the pandemic.

"Our hearts continue to be with all of those who have been affected," writes Mark Walsh CEO of Value Village, in a statement about the closure of stores across North America.

"We look forward to reopening our doors and welcoming our team members and customers back very soon". 

There are some exceptions. Roxburgh says some small community groups or local churches may still be taking donations so are places like Find Edmonton. 

Adrienne Lamb/CBC

Although Homeward Trust's Find Edmonton retail operations are closed to the public spokesperson Janine Tremblay says they are still taking some items like "couches, dressers, small kitchen tables, chairs, love seats, tv stands and shelving." 

Find Edmonton is currently only receiving items at the Donation Centre at 5120 122nd Street, which is running on reduced hours with extra cleaning precautions and procedures in place. 

"We ask that people come around the back of the building and leave small items on the tables in the back. For large items we ask that people either unload themselves or allow our team to unload from their vehicle, but to maintain social distancing we cannot help people to unload," explains Tremblay. 

Eco stations

The City of Edmonton also making changes this week. 

"We have temporarily closed Ambleside Eco Station, the Reuse Centre, the Reuse area at Kennedale Eco Station, as well as the paint exchange areas at all Eco Stations," said Chris Fowler, director of waste collection services. 

Though the eco stations have closed, there have been no changes to the city's waste collection services and garbage and recycling collection remain on the same schedule. 

Supplied by City of Edmonton