Good Samaritan of the Ozarks, a local faith based charity that administers a food pantry, battered women's shelter, and provides help to those in need, has a huge problem that only seems to be getting worse, according to director Connie Chambers.
The organization has become forced to dump a 30-yard dumpster full of the community's unwanted trash, on average, three or four times a month. In addition to the dumpster, Good Samaritan of the Ozarks is also making an equal amount of runs to the St. Robert transfer station using their big box truck.
A 30 yard dumpster holds 30 cubic yards of waste. Common dumpster dimensions for a 30 yard dumpster are 22 ft. long by 8 ft. wide by 6 ft. high. According to United Waste Management, that's more than 14 full-sized pick-up truck loads of trash.
The cost is really beginning to add up for the organization and only seems to be getting worse. Each time they have to dump the dumpster it costs them $300 and each trip to the St. Robert Transfer Station costs the charity $50. The average cost of dumping fees, per month, in 2012 was $1,044.
"Every time we have to dump that dumpster, that $300 that could have helped somebody in need, somebody who is being abused, somebody who is hungry… You know, somebody who needs our help. That $300 instead is going to dumping fees," Chambers said.
The problem facing the organization is the disposal of broken, severely soiled, torn, or otherwise unserviceable items such as torn, ruined, or stained mattresses, broken couches, old rusted appliances that don't work, broken TVs and computer monitors, broken plastic items, and other things the organization cannot recycle.
Chambers said that, although she believes there are those doing it "because they don't want to go to the transfer station and pay to dump their stuff," there are also those who are "people who really do believe they are helping and there are those that just don't know."
The organization tries to recycle all that it can, but there are just some things that they cannot recycle because they don't have the ability to do so, the space, or it's just too labor intensive for the charity to attempt to do it. As an example, according to Chambers, the organization tried to recycle plastic for a while.
"It was just too labor intensive and we don't have the space," Chambers said.
Plastics have to be sorted by types and locally, only two types of plastics are accepted for recycling. Good Samaritan tried to recycle plastic for a couple of months, but they were forced to use an outside resource for it. The company would not make the trip to Waynesville unless all the plastics were sorted and there was enough to warrant the trip.
Page 2 of 2 - Chambers said storing all that plastic and trying to sort through the multitude of types just cost the organization too much time and labor.
"We recycle metal, hats, shoes, belts, purses, toys, rags, clothing that isn't fit to wear so long as it's clean, paper like old magazines and old books we can't sell. We're not wasteful by any means," Chambers said.
Chambers said she wants the community to understand that the organization is grateful to the community for all it does, but the cost of disposing of items that they cannot sell in the thrift store or minister to those in need is taking its toll on the organization.
"They are not serving the poor by giving us that stuff. We need gently used, good quality things, they don't have to be perfect, but things that are going to allow people who are in need to have some dignity and respect," Chambers said.