Vinnie’s say more thought needed on clothing donations

Andrew Milne at Vinnie’s Osborne Park depot.
Andrew Milne at Vinnie’s Osborne Park depot.

ST Vincent de Paul Society is facing two crises – a shortage of women’s winter clothes and a surplus of donated items that are unfit for use.

Vinnies spends hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in tip fees getting rid of damaged, torn and otherwise unusable clothes and goods that people dump in their collection bins, but is struggling to meet demand for warm clothes during this year’s harsh winter.

Vinnies social enterprise executive manager Carl Prowse said women’s winter clothes are the “biggest portion of our requests for clothing from those in need”.

“We have more than a couple of thousand volunteers across WA and our core business is home visits. In 2014-15 they visited almost 30,000 homes. During that time they assess needs, and often it is bedding or winter clothes,” he said.

Mr Prowse said the work of the charity was hampered by people dumping unusable items.

“We spend at least $200,000 a year in tip fees,” he said.

Mr Prowse said a good test for potential donors was to donate only goods they would be prepared to give to a friend or family member.

“Another problem is when people leave things outside the bins and others come and tear the bags open, rummaging through the items and they get ruined by rain,” he said.

Mr Prowse urged people to think responsibly about what and how they donated.

St Vincent de Paul Society has 50 stores throughout the state, including Northbridge (William St), North Perth (Bulwer St), Maylands (8th Ave) and Mt Hawthorn (Scarborough Beach Rd).