Cessnock council has launched an educational campaign in a bid to reduce illegal dumping on charity operations.
An estimated 10% of donations from the Cessnock community ends up for sale in op shops.
While charities work hard to find alternatives, such as sending items overseas, many items are often disposed of in landfill, with the cost falling on local charities.
The Salvation Army in Cessnock regularly feeds 60 or more families who would otherwise go hungry.
The funds for these services come from sales at the Vincent Street Op Shop.
However, this charity is at risk.
Illegal dumping and inappropriate donations limit the amount of welfare work that the Salvation Army can fund and places a huge strain on the workers and volunteers.
The Salvation Army’s local captain, Darryn Lloyd, hopes Cessnock council’s campaign will result in “more informed givers”.
“If you wouldn’t give it to a friend, don’t give it to us,” he says.
“[Many people] aren’t giving us what we can sell or use – they’re using the charity bins as dumping grounds.
“It’s such a huge distraction for volunteers, and the money can be better spent on helping people in the local community.
“We recently sent 26 children, who hadn’t been on a holiday before, off to a kids camp.
“When we waste money on tip fees, it can be better spent on sending kids off to these camps or feeding the Cessnock community.
“It costs money to go to the tip – I understand that. But we’re not the solution.”
Cessnock mayor Bob Pynsent praised the community’s donations but called for an improvement in quality.
He also encouraged people to go into op shops and ask whether items are wanted, rather than just drop items outside.
Cessnock council’s campaign will feature in print, on social media and on the side of one of its garbage trucks.
Call 131 555 or go to ridonline.epa.nsw.gov.au to report dumping on a charity.