PETALING JAYA: As financial support dwindles, charitable organisations still find themselves dedicating resources to segregate reusable donated items from damaged ones, especially during festive seasons.
When it comes to donation of used items, one man’s trash may not be another man’s treasure.
The team at Persatuan Kebajikan Sinar Sofia in Johor had previously received expired canned food and soiled clothes, which later had to be discarded.
“It usually happens during festive seasons when people start clearing out their kitchen cabinets or wardrobes.
“We are not asking for new clothes or items, but donated items should be in good condition.
“We have also received useful items before, like a water purifier, ” said its founder and chairman Rosli Ismail.
Rosli said worn undergarments and heavily stained clothing should not be donated as they would most likely be sent to landfills.
“While we welcome donation of groceries such as rice and beverage drinks, we also hope to get a small van. It can be new or second-hand, as long as it still functions well, to bring our residents to the hospital.”
Sinar Sofia, which provides support for HIV and AIDS infected or affected individuals and drug abusers, is not alone in its predicament.
Kajang-based Community Recycle for Charity (CRC) project leader Syafawatie Radzi said while they tried their best to find ways to reuse or recycle all donated items, some still end up in landfills.
CRC collects and redistributes or resells donated items to help other charitable organisations in need.
“During particular seasons, for example Chinese New Year, we receive a lot of prayer cabinets. It is very hard for us to redistribute those.
“Also, after Hari Raya, we usually receive a lot of used plates and cups, sometimes with residual food and drinks in the same bag. We also found maggots in those bags.”
Syafawatie urged the public against donating broken furniture, construction items or contaminated goods.
Some charitable organisations fear that voicing up may leave the wrong impression.
Members of the public may assume charitable organisations demand for new items.
The Handicapped and Mentally Retarded Children Centre Kuantan supervisor James Perumal said the centre would not refuse donation even if they were unsuitable.
“Sometimes, we receive food items that are about to expire or very old clothes but we just accept them.
“Our staff will sort the items and discard those that cannot be reused.
“We do not want the public to think we only want new things, ” said Perumal.
However, Penang-based Kawan Centre has been receiving good quality items.
Its coordinator Ed De Visser said while there was a decrease in financial support, donation of used items to its thrift store, Kawan Shop, had gone up.
“We receive a lot of items daily and most of them are in relatively good condition. There are even new branded items among them sometimes.”
An engineer, who only wanted to be identified as Toh, 31, regularly contributes to charity.
He suggested pre-sorting items prior to sending them to charitable organisations.
“The best way to do it is to always imagine the reaction of the recipients. If you think they will cringe when they see the expired food, you are probably right.
“Always check with charitable organisations before you donate. Find out what they need, ” said Toh.
He also urged donors to ensure all items were properly cleaned before being donated.