Reporter Carly Carver detailed this week how The Dressing Room was forced to shut down Monday after someone left a significant amount of trash at the drop-off site for the nonprofit.
The Dressing Room on Carter Avenue provides free clothing and assistance to those in need. The closure occurred because of trash dumped there during off-hours. The trash included broken furniture and other useless items and some bags of clothes that were then rummaged through. The resulting mess left employees forced to try and clean up the mess as opposed to helping those who needed their services.
When we put this story together we thought there are two aspects to this issue. One is dropping off items after hours and the second is dropping off useless materials that are really junk that should instead be hauled off to the landfill. Some of the items dropped off after hours — including clothes — perhaps had merit as a donation. However, since they were dropped off after hours, others were able to rummage through the material and left debris strewn everywhere. This appears to be easily solved with people simply dropping off donations during the nonprofit's normal business hours.
The second issue is, to us. more serious: why would one dump junky broken furniture off at a nonprofit? Really?
This is not an isolated incident. Trash dropped off in donation areas for nonprofits has been a continual problem. A year ago The Daily Independent reported how The Salvation Army faced having to clean up broken furniture, stained and sodden mattresses, televisions with cracked picture tubes and miscellaneous junk dumped at their place of business.
Sandy Riggs, a part-time associate at The Dressing Room, said the weekend donation drop off is a particular issue in the summer months. As people finish their rummage sales they tend to leave the junk outside the non-profit’s doors. However, this does more harm than good to the organization.
We suspect some of the people leaving the items have good intentions but they are doing it the wrong way. Others are just using the non-profit's philanthropy as an excuse to not have to pay for disposing of, and paying for, their trash properly.
Other parts of Eastern Kentucky have struggled with similar, improper disposal trash issues as well. In Rowan County authorities are looking to address those using illegal dump sites. The county, along with Tyler Brown, director of solid waste services, are asking for the public's help in identifying such sites. The goal is not just clean up -- it's also to catch those who are committing the crime and punishing those involved. In Carter County we reported last year how officials put trail cameras in different locations across the county aimed at investigating illegal dumping of trash in rural areas.
Just throwing one's trash out for all to see is perhaps the most serious offense of all these instances. There is a cost to society froml this. One of the greatest assets rural areas like Eastern Kentucky have are their rural settings, their scenery and their natural beauty.
Illegal dumping of trash — whether at a non profit's doors or in nature, or on the side of the road -- is not acceptable. To drop materials off at a nonprofit, do it during business hours. For regular trash and old furniture that has no use take it to the landfill and pay up.
We all have a responsibility to keep our communities safe and clean.
It starts with us.