Thrift store not the dump

It’s garage sale season and Serenity House Thrift Store volunteers are feeling the strain.

While they appreciate donations in good condition, which can be sold to help fight homelessness, they often show up to work to find a pile of garbage blocking the back doors.

“It’s bad when we have to turn away people with valid, resalable donations because there is no room to process them,” said store volunteer Cyndy Bilsborrow. “I’d say we get an illegal dump at least once a week, but this past Monday (June 30) was the worst I’ve seen yet.”

Standing behind the store next to a sign that reads “Do Not Leave Donations Outside!” Bilsborrow said she showed up Monday morning to a cascading pile of garbage and broken furniture.

“Sometimes it is just garbage, not even something that could be confused for something we would accept,” she said. “If you want to donate what you can’t sell at a yard sale, please come while we are here so we can save some time and money to help our cause.”

Because the store is closed on Sundays and garage sales end on Sundays, Bilsborrow said Monday mornings are tough on volunteers.

“These people are donating their time to help this store help the homeless and if they are taking time to sort and pile garbage for the dump, we can’t get regular work done for the store,” she said, leaning on an old television in a wooden cabinet. “We spend thousands of dollars every year in dump fees because of this and that’s money these dumpers are stealing from the homeless.”

The proper procedure to donate items to Serenity House is to show up while the store is open. Otherwise, leaving items behind the store without permission is illegal dumping.

Even if the store is open, volunteers ask that donors refrain from leaving items outside and to bring them in through the back door or ask for help once they show up.

Bilsborrow said it’s best to come early and suggested calling ahead first because the back room often fills up quickly.

The phone number for the Serenity House Thrift Store is 683-8269 and it is open from 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturdays. Those interested in volunteering can call the same line.

“We are always looking for more volunteers in the summer; it’s the time when people start taking vacations and we can really use the help any time of the year,” she said.

Serenity House of Clallam County is a nonprofit agency committed to providing emergency shelter, transitional housing and support services for the homeless or those at risk of becoming homeless.

For information on the agency, visit its Web site at

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