“We will get bags and bags of clothes that are simply filthy, jeans with one leg ripped off and dirty linen that looks like someone had just pulled it off their bed,” said Brenda Corbett, a 20-year volunteer for the New Waterford Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
“We get bags of broken dishes, small appliances that don’t work and actual food garbage.”
Corbett said the depot received quality donations over the years in its donation bin near the clothing depot behind Parish of St. Leonard’s Pastoral Centre in River Ryan. Although they’ve always received some substandard ones as well, the seriousness escalated early this summer when Diabetes Canada removed three clothing drop boxes from Dolly’s Convenience Store on Emerald Street.
“That’s when the trouble started and people began overpowering us with the big overflow,” she said. “Now we’re ending up with about 40 bags of garbage a week for the dump.”
Corbett has opened bags of donated clothes to find household garbage also dumped in and bugs and ants crawling all over it.
“It’s ongoing of some people not caring of what they put in the bags.”
However Corbett said there has also been items such as dirty underwear and used feminine pads in some of the bags they open.
“Sometimes I find used feminine products that were just thrown in with the clothes, which is downright disgusting.”
One day Corbett found three or four very large bags in the bin that were exceptionally heavy.
”When I opened the bags it was just a stinky, moldy, disgusting smell,” she said.
“They were full of soaking-wet clothes from where somebody probably had a flood in their basement and just shoveled clothes in bags and dropped them off here. hat was a cruel thing to do.”
Corbett said she assumes because of the “deathly” smell they were infested with maggots.
“We have to pay someone to take all this to the dump for us.”
At the clothing depot, said Corbett, they have about 100 clients, not only from New Waterford but also Sydney and Glace Bay.
The depot opens on Mondays at 11 a.m. and everything is free. Corbett said there are many people who drop off good clothes and household items and, with so many clients, these donations are appreciated.
“We could have 50-70 people in here at once as we do get some really nice things too,” she said. “We get a lot of the really nice skinny jeans and that’s what the kids like.”
Items that stay on the shelves for a few weeks are donated to Diabetes Canada or Value Village where there would be more client options.
As well as the “good, bad and the ugly,” there have been interesting finds in the donation bags as well, including money and lots of car or house keys.
One time Corbett even found a handgun.
“I thought it was a real gun, it was wrapped in a sweater. I took it to the police station and found out it was an air gun. “
There was even an issue of someone helping themselves to the donations. Corbett said last year they were mystified, finding bags ripped open, until someone witnessed a woman taking bags.
“She was opening some to see what was in it and taking ones she liked.”
Anne Marie MacPherson, president of the New Waterford Society of St. Vincent de Paul, said everyone in their society is a volunteer.
“We’re giving up our time to help people and we get frustrated when something like this happens.”
MacPherson said the society appreciates the good donations, which are needed by their clients.
“All along, the majority of the donations given were very good and showed respect for the workers and the clients,” she said.
“Right now we are just overwhelmed by too much inappropriate items.”
Paul Kilbertus, senior manager of strategic communications for Diabetes Canada, said their clothing drop boxes were removed from Dolly’s Convenience Store during the summer because the store is closing.
Kilbertus said the drop boxes were put in at Frasers ‘The Store’ Convenience at 3245 Plummer Ave. on Saturday.
Kenny Fraser, owner of ‘Frasers’ The Store,’ said Diabetes Canada called him and, where he believes them to be a “great organization,” he agreed to allow the boxes beside his store.
“I said ‘sure I’ll take them’ because I know they are needed in our town.”
Fraser said he told Diabetes Canada the drop boxes can stay as long as they are kept neat.
“I hear they are good with regular pickups,” he said. “As long as it’s not unsightly outside.
“They are a good organization and I want to help.”
Fraser said the Diabetes Canada boxes have been repainted and look nice.
If you want to help others:
• The New Waterford Society of St. Vincent de Paul clothing depot is asking people to please drop off only good used clothing or household items at their drop-off bin behind the Parish of St. Leonard Pastoral Centre in River Ryan.
• The clothing depot opens Mondays at 11 a.m. Everything is free.
• To donate or to help Diabetes Canada call 1-800-505-5525 for free pickup or email www.declutter.diabetes.ca
Society of St. Vincent de Paul
• The Society of St Vincent de Paul is an international voluntary organization in the Catholic Church founded in 1833 to help the less fortunate.
• Originally there were two Society of St. Vincent de Paul organizations in New Waterford including one associated with St. Agnes parish and another with Mount Carmel parish. The two societies joined into one after the six Catholic parishes in New Waterford amalgamated on May 27, 2007, to become the Parish of St. Leonard.
• The New Waterford Society of St. Vincent de Paul helps the less fortunate with groceries, clothing and furniture.
• The society currently has four executive members, a spiritual adviser and more than 35 volunteers.