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Nonprofit thrift stores: Certain dropped off items are costing them money

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – We get it. You want to tidy up your house, get rid of all that clutter and help your community at the same time. But there's a mistake many of us are making that's actually costing some of our favorite local charities thousands of dollars a year.

Spectrum Thrift Store in Fruit Cove is a perfect example. On a typical day, the aisles are full of deals, the place is brimming with shoppers. Sounds great, right? It would be, except for the pile of trash sitting outside.

"When they blatantly use you as a trash dump, there's nothing that you can really do about it," said Spectrum owner Mark Tillman.

He's talking about items that are meant to be donations that are left by the door when the store is closed. All those items pile up and it can result in the store getting hit with some pricey trash fees every month.

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There are several resources available online to learn more about charities near you and how your donations are used. Consumer Reports recommends checking out Charity Navigator and Charity Watch , but GuideStar is another helpful database. Some of these websites will require you to register to access that information.

"A thousand dollars if people drop stuff off and you can't use it and you can't break it down and put it in the dumpster," Tillman explained.

Tillman, who does what he can to help people out, tends to hire developmentally delayed workers to staff the store. However, because his trash bill is so high, he said he can't pay them as much as he would like.