Charities worried by roadside collection boxes

The Patriot Ledger Quincy, MA/October 4, 1999

Worcester (AP) -- A for-profit company has begun using roadside collection boxes and some charities are worried that American Clothing Recycling's boxes have eaten into donations of clothing to the poor. In recent months, the Waterbury, Conn.-based company has placed white collection boxes on empty lots and street corners.

The boxes are similar to those used by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, a nonprofit, charitable group of the Roman Catholic Church that helps the poor. Only donors who read the fine print on American Clothing Recycling's boxes are likely to realize their clothes are going to a private business.

"What bothers me is their boxes are white, just like my boxes. I have my logo, but I don't think people always stop and read it," said Frances E. Pike, executive director of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Worcester.

Her husband, Robert Pike, the society's vice president, said he believes some people may be getting confused. "We've noticed a drop in the last year since these things have been popping up all over the place," he told the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester.

The for-profit boxes might also be cutting into donations to the Salvation Army in Central Massachusetts. The Salvation Army, which has 130 collection boxes in the region, has noticed about a 40 percent drop in donations, this year, said Richard A. Feather, general supervisor in the Worcester office.

American Clothing Recycling sells the donated clothing. Its owner, William Pategas, refused to discuss operations with the newspaper.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul and Salvation Army may also be facing new competition from other nonprofits that have gotten into the clothing collection business. One group, Planet Aid, says it is expanding around the country.

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