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Not all gifts are good

Well-meaning donors could end up actually costing charities money this Christmas, so how do you make sure you give something that is actually needed?

The festive season is often a boom time for charities.

But Vinnies South Australia chief executive David Wark said some donated goods could not be passed on.

“The real cost is that we spend just under $200,000 a year getting rid of people’s rubbish.

“That’s about 33,000 meals we can’t provide because we are spending that money on getting rid of people’s rubbish.”

Mr Wark said there were common items they could not make use of including mattresses with any marks or stains.

Mattresses have to be either new or in perfect condition to be re-used, he said.

Furniture that was broken, dirty or stained — if springs are broken or cushions torn they are not suitable to be passed on for people in need.

Mr Wark said for some charities you could also add electrical goods to the do-not-donate list.

“A good paradigm to use is, would I be prepared to give this to a friend if they were in need?” Mr Wark said.
What should you give this Christmas?

He said if people did want to donate to a Christmas appeal this year, there were always items that were especially welcomed.

With requests for toys tripling in some areas over the past year, Mr Wark said games were always a favourite.

“Kids like things that move or light up or make a noise.

“Thomas the Tank Engine is a classic for young boys and Barbies for girls.

“I can’t help but think of things like cricket sets and netballs and things that promote activity with others.”


Five things charities do not want this year for Christmas (ABC News)

Images: Vinnies workers busily sort through donations at the Adelaide depot. (891 ABC Adelaide: Brett Williamson)