Mystery donation boxes leave local non profits concerned
Donation boxes for local charities and non profits are something people in the Tennessee Valley are used to seeing and many use them, but unmarked boxes have popped up all over the region and it has some scratching their heads.
Some of the donation boxes have labels on them, others are unmarked. No one seems to know where the boxes came from or who they belong to.
Richman Blackwell is one of the owners of Blackwell Automotive in Chattanooga.
He says he gave permission to the local Teen Challenge nonprofit group nearly five years ago to place their donation box on his property.
"It's not in the way or anything and it gets lots of traffic through here of people making donations," says Blackwell.
But when he showed up to work one morning, he says he was surprised to see a second one sitting next to it.
"They never called or came by or anything," said Blackwell. "We were just surprised that someone would come and set it on our property without asking. It's not that it's in the way, it's just the courtesy."
What puzzled him more? He didn't know where it came from.
"We went and looked at it and it's just a collection box and we're not sure who it's affiliated with," said Blackwell.
"Because they're not marked, but if they are, if people take the time to call you don't get an answer or a recording that doesn't tell them anything," said Roger Helle, Executive Director, Teen Challenge.
Channel 3 tried calling one of the companies, labeled the greenhouse recycling, with the number provided, but was unable to reach anyone.
When we tried to look them up on their website, there was nothing there, either.
"We don't know where the clothing is going. We know Teen Challenge and what they do and the items stay locally," said Blackwell.
Helle said his organization is feeling the effects of the mysterious boxes, by not getting the donations they normally would from their own collection boxes.
However, they're not the only ones.
"That's affected all of the local charities like Salvation Army, Goodwill, the Bethlehem Center, Bethel Bible Village, Teen Challenge," said Helle.
Helle says they believe the public is being deceived by some of these for-profit groups and says the items are not staying local.
"People are doing the right thing and giving to what they think is local because the boxes are local but they don't realize the boxes are being shipped overseas," said Helle. "Recyclers from outside this community are coming in and taking advantage of this community's generosity and it's effecting all of the local organizations."
Some of the boxes do provide website address where you can look up information about where the items will be going.
The local non profits tell Channel 3 in the near future there will be labels on the bins to let the public know if the items will be helping the local community, but for now, they encourage everyone to research where they're sending items before they donate.
Business owner, Blackwell, says he plans to have the mystery box removed.