Cleaning up after the weekend

By Debora Steel, May 30, 2011

Garbage left at Cornerstone, the second hand store that helps support neighbor Bread of Life soup kitchen, was strewn about the back alley after the evening dump was rummaged through during the wee hours of Saturday night and Sunday morning. 

Port Alberni — 

Cindy Sjoholm, the administrator at Bread of Life soup kitchen in Port Alberni, was busy Monday morning cleaning up the back alley after a night-time dump of “donations” made to the Cornerstone second-hand store next door.

Tenants in the apartment building on the other side of Bread of Life reported that four pickup truckloads of boxes and bagged items were left for the store, but over the course of the night people plundered them, strewing unwanted items around the alley, leaving an unsightly mess of garbage.

Sjoholm said it was unclear if there were any useful items in the material dropped off, but after the all-night rummaging, most items that remained could not be used or resold, including a busted up dresser, and numerous video tape recorders.

Copper wire was removed from electrical items. Other goods were broken, chipped or stained, and, according to the manager of Cornerstone who wrote on facebook, everything had a distinctly ripe odor.

Sjoholm said she wasn’t sure if the after-hours drop off was a well-meaning attempt to help out the store, whose profits go toward the operation of the Bread of Life soup kitchen, or if it was an attempt to avoid land-fill fees. The items were tagged with orange stickers, as though they had already been put up for resale somewhere, either in a retail store or garage sale.

Regardless, all what remained of the drop-off went into the soup kitchen dumpster. The landfill fees now will come out of the Bread of Life’s meager budget.

And a new oversized sign is being planned for display at Cornerstones which will remind people that donations will only be accepted during business hours, Monday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

And for those people that do have some useful items to donate, remember that Cornerstone doesn’t accept furniture or large items.

And some advice left by a friend of the soup kitchen on facebook: “If you wouldn't give it to a friend, then don't donate it.”