Help Agency Needs Help

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Be it trash or treasure, a pile of discarded donations at Meridian's Salvation Army location is creating quite a stir.

"They're all talking about it at the beauty shop and it's just terrible," said Maxine Sinclair, a concerned citizen.

At least once a week, Sinclair says she drives by the main administrative office on B. Street.

"I've given them clothes, but I don't know that I'll give them any more," Sinclair said Thursday.

That's what Salvation Army officials fear, that many residents will start to feel like Sinclair does and not want to donate because they don't think that the items are taken care of or that they will be properly dispersed.

But officials say although clothes and other donated items are often found beside the drop boxes, that's not the case. The Salvation Army says some people have even broken into the drop boxes to steal things and scattering the contents.

To make matters worse, Maj. Susan McClure of The Salvation Army says there's little that can be done about it.

"Even if I find information of who did it, the police won't do anything unless they see them do it," said McClure.

This problem is not unique to Meridian. In fact, Maj. McClure says cities such as Gadsden, Ala., and Alexandria, La., have simply stopped using the drop boxes because of this. McClure said the same might happen here.

The Salvation Army says it is being forced to hire a private cleanup crew, costing the organization money they don't really have.

"Unfortunately, the community is going to suffer for it," said McClure. "Those that are less fortunate, that need us, are going to suffer for it."

In the meantime, McClure is encouraging residents to bring their donations directly to The Salvation Army's store in Acme Plaza or to the larger store at 2739 6th Street.

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