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Pulling donation bins would mean 25% loss of fundraising cash: hospital charity

Last Updated Jan 4, 2019 at 7:42 pm PDT

The Auxiliary to BC Children's Hospital says 25 per cent of fundraising money comes from clothing donation bins. (Source: Auxiliary to BC Children's Hospital website)

Some charities are putting away donation bins after a man died in one this week

The hospital charity is conflicted over removing bins as that would mean losing a quarter of money fundraised

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Charities deciding to remove donation bins for safety reasons may find themselves in a bind as some organizations rely heavily on donations to meet fundraising goals.

The Auxiliary to B.C. Children’s Hospital says over 25 per cent of the money it raises for crucial programs at the hospital, comes from the 38 bins it has around the province, predominantly in the Lower Mainland.

“We raise close to about $130,000 a year, which 100 per cent of it goes to the Auxiliary to B.C. Children’s Hospital,” Muzda Stenner with the Auxiliary says. “If we had to remove them, that’s a great part of the income that would be lost.”

The bins have gone back under the microscope following the death of a man in West Vancouver last weekend. It marked the second clothing donation bin death of 2018 in Metro Vancouver and the fifth in B.C. since 2015.

Related stories:

Man stuck in West Vancouver clothing bin found dead

Diabetes Canada says it will retrofit all 3,000 donation bins across Canada

Inclusion B.C. pulls 146 donation bins after death in West Vancouver

The money the Auxiliary to B.C. Children’s Hospital raises goes towards several programs at the hospital that Stenner argues get at the root of the reasons people end up in the donation bins in the first place.

“There’s a greater problem behind this tragic incident; it’s mostly because there are no resources out there for mental health, addiction, and homelessness,” she says.

“This is a full circle effect. The textile recycling bin program brings the Auxiliary to B.C. Children’s Hospital over $130,000 a year, which supports programs such as youth, mental health, and many others, just so we can try to be proactive and prevent another life lost in the future by dealing with it and looking at it today.”

WATCH: West Vancouver shuts down all donation bins after death

While the group is hesitant to pull the bins for now, Stenner says they have been committed to making them safer since the summer, when the first clothing donation bin in Metro Vancouver happened.

“The Auxiliary to B.C. Children’s Hospital is dealing with this matter very seriously and we’re already working with a couple of municipalities to implement a safer textile recycling program.” she said. “We’re also in the process of a pilot project with our bins that are being altered for human safety.”

Unlike some other groups’ bins, Stenner says the Auxiliary’s are privately posted and they have a contract with the property owners, confirming they are aware the bin is on their property. Most bins are also locked at night and have scheduled pick-ups. A phone number that reaches Stenner, directly, is also posted on the bins and she adds there’s never been an issue with their bins.

Developmental Disabilities Association and Diabetes Canada are among the groups also not removing their bins for now, instead either retrofitting them or joining movements to make them safer.

Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver said on Friday it would be recalling its bins pending a safety review, adding 50 per cent of the fundraising it needs to run their programs comes from clothing donations. Inclusion BC announced on Thursday it would be pulling its 146 clothing donation bins pending a safety review.

Charities conflicted over removing bins

The Development Disabilities Association is also not removing its clothing donation bins for now.

In a release, the agency says it’s joined a task force at UBC Okanagan Engineering to design safer bins.

Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver says even though half of its funding comes from clothing donations it’s recalling all bins in the Lower Mainland pending safety evaluations and improvements.

Earlier Friday, Diabetes Canada said it would retrofit all of its 3,000 donation bins across Canada.