Donating a bag of used clothes to one of the numerous clothing drop bins situated around the Town of North Hempstead is certainly a generous gesture, especially during the holiday season. It may seem like a quick and easy way to help those less fortunate, but North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth, Town Clerk Wayne Wink and the Town’s Code Enforcement Department are urging residents to scrutinize charitable clothing bins before donating clothes.
“During the holiday season these donation drop bins seem to proliferate at a rapid pace and not all of them are properly permitted or part of a legitimate charitable organization,” said Supervisor Bosworth. “Anyone making a donation to one of the bins should first look for some important information to make sure the organization is a nonprofit and not an unscrupulous money-making enterprise disguised as a charity.”
According to Town Clerk Wink, all clothing bins in the town must be permitted with the Clerk’s Office, at a cost of $50, and be registered with the State as a charitable, nonprofit organization. Currently, the town has issued permits for 18 bins by five charities, he said.
“All the bins that we permit are properly labelled and licensed by a 501(c) (3) charity. They are inspected by my office to ensure their labelling is accurate and not misleading and that their location is safe and as unobtrusive as possible,” said Town Clerk Wink.
However, according to code enforcement officers, it’s estimated that there are more than 100 clothing bins around Town, the majority of which are not properly permitted. If the bin is on private property, the town will issue the owner of the bin and property owner a Court Appearance Ticket. If the unpermitted bin is on public property, the Town can remove it. Violators can be fined up to $500 for the first offense, $1,000 for the second and up to $2,000 for the third offense, including jail time. To view the Town Code for Drop Bins, click here.
Public Safety Commissioner Andrew DeMartin said that permitted bins must be placed in a safe location where the public can access them, and not be placed in any parking lots or parking spaces. They must display the owner’s information, be well-maintained, not be painted with graffiti and never be overflowing with clothes or trash. Any unpermitted bins can be ticketed or removed by the town’s Code Enforcement Department.
“If anyone wishing to donate clothes is not sure that the clothing charity is legitimate, they can contact the town’s 311 Call Center or the New York State Attorney General’s Charities Bureau,” said Commissioner DeMartin. “Anyone making a donation needs to know what signs to look for and what questions to ask in order to assure that your donation is going to a charity.”