Salvation Army Tosses New Toys In Trash - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

07/15/05

Salvation Army Tosses New Toys In Trash

The Salvation Army is well known for giving toys to needy children at Christmas. That's why it's so hard to imagine the organization tossing brand new toys into a dumpster.

But a woman called WLOX News to say that's exactly what happened at the Gulfport Salvation Army's warehouse in Long Beach.

It is hard to believe, but it's true. Hundreds of brand new toys, donated by a manufacturer, won't be under a Christmas tree this year. Instead, an admitted "bad decision" landed those toys in garbage dumpsters.

Two large dumpsters are filled with cases of mostly sci-fi action figure toys.

Heather Holcomb says a tough decision was made to throw the toys away, as the Salvation Army was cleaning out the warehouse space it must vacate.

"Well, like I said, it was not an easy decision to make. But when we're having to down size and we've contacted other organizations. We've donated toys to the Boys and Girls Clubs, South Mississippi Regional and other organizations that were able to come and get what they could," she explained.

The Salvation Army must empty its distribution warehouse in Long Beach, since the building's been sold. As for tossing all these toys, Major David Craddock said it's unfortunate.

"At this point we've got no place to put it. We had to do something. And I know it doesn't look good. I don't like doing it. But I have to take care of what happened in the past and work on into the future," he said.

Amanda Williard of Long Beach says its bad enough toys intended for children are in the garbage. She was further infuriated seeing some of the toys loaded up by people planning to sell them on E-bay.

"And they could have moved these to another warehouse or ran it in the paper for the poor children. Or done something better than what they're doing now," she said.

We were initially told the only new toys thrown out were violent "action figures".

"We made the decision to get rid of those rather than to distribute those," Holcomb explained.

She added, "There were things that were ruined because of moisture in the warehouse, because of rodent infestation. So, we're sorting through those and saving the ones we feel are salvageable."

We climbed over the dumpster and found other new toys. It might be a stretch to include a Power Ranger on a motorcycle in the "violent toy" category. It is definitely a stretch to include boxes of young girls' fashion and make up kits we uncovered.

"I don't like throwing anything away. When somebody gives us something, we try to be good stewards of it," said Major Craddock.

The chairman of the Salvation Army Board told WLOX News, "a mistake was made and we're sorry".

Steve Dickerson is also worried that the unfortunate incident could have a negative impact on donations this Christmas.

"Anytime you have this kind of situation you hope that people don't look up and say, God, if they'e going to throw away what we give them, why should we give them. And that's not the case here. This was a onetime situation. And our biggest worry is of course that when we come around at Christmas time again, people will say, I don't know, and we'll have thousands of kids waiting for stuff at Christmas time," Dickerson said.

As mentioned, the Salvation Army did give away many surplus toys, including bicycles, to the Boys and Girls Clubs and other organizations. By the way, if you can help, they are still in desperate need of warehouse space. Call the Gulfport Salvation Army for more information.

By Steve Phillips

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