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Crisis Center Policy in Crisis


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In recent weeks, several Chattooga citizens have expressed concern over “waste removal” procedures at the thrift store, Attic Treasure Family Store in Summerville, which is ran by the Family Crisis Center.

The Family Crisis Center operates two Attic Treasures Thrift Stores, in Summerville and Lafayette. People in both communities donate items ranging from clothing to large items, such as furniture. “All proceeds from thrift stores go directly back to the programs of the Family Crisis Center to assist victims of domestic violence and their families,” according the Director of the Family Crisis Center, Kristy Lawson.

Reports have been that “good clothing” and other items are discarded in the dumpster behind the store. To prevent ‘dumpster divers’, the store employees are instructed to wet the clothing down with a water hose, see video below, and now it is reported that they take things one step further… dousing the items with bleach.

AllOnGeorgia spoke to Kristi Lawson, Director of the Family Crisis Center, who emphasized that only “torn ripped or stained items were thrown away.” Lawson went on to say, “if individuals are in need, the store will assist them if the people simply ask during store hours.  People get into the dumpster, which is private property by the way,” Lawson stated. “Sometimes the donations contain garbage, needles, and drug paraphernalia. We have even had a toilet donated that had human feces in it.” Lawson said, if bleach was being used, then it was a new tactic to try to keep people out of the dumpster.

Lawson again stressed, “…if someone needs assistance, they should come into the store. Things that get thrown away are things that can’t be sold. I can assure you, if it can be sold, it is not being thrown away.”

The Family Crisis Center has been in operation since 1994. The Center is the primary domestic abuse shelter and outreach services for Walker, Dade, Catoosa, & Chattooga Counties, GA. 

Social Media Storm

While the policy has stirred up significant backlash on social media outlets, there may be little that can be done from a legal perspective.

Chattooga County Sheriff Mark Schrader commented on the organization’s authority over the dumpster and its contents, stating that if the store leased the dumpster, then it was the store’s private property.

According to an employee of Attic Treasures in Summerville who identified himself as Josh, employees are instructed to discard items that don’t sell or that are deemed undesirable. Josh went on to confirm that employees are instructed to wet the clothing in the dumpsters to keep people from going into the dumpster and getting the items. He continued by saying some mornings the employees would arrive at work with a mess around the dumpster created by people rummaging through, tossing items out of the dumpster to inspect, and then leaving any items they did not want on the ground.  

Simple Solutions

The private property and safety concerns that the store maintains are valid points. Injuries resulting from citizens climbing in and out of the dumpster could represent legal problems for the store. Employees recalled a time when the trash collectors arrived to empty the dumpster only to find a sleeping person inside.

For donors within the community, they are concerned over the waste and ruination with bleach of clothing that could be used for people in need. People give donations to Attic Treasure as part of their individual ministry and the thought of those donations being tossed into the trash and covered in bleach is unsettling. 

A simple resolution may be found in more communication. The Family Crisis Center could provide a ‘One Day – Free Table’ event during which the items that weren’t selling could be offered for free. Those items that remained could then be offered to local churches who have a community closet or a church looking to start one. The recent cold snap sent many students to school with no jacket, illustrating the true need of places like Attic Treasures in our community.

If the Family Crisis Center is solely concerned with the store’s function as a fundraising entity for the Crisis Center and generating revenue, then the organization isn’t serving the needs of the community. Cooperation with the community that it serves is always a good policy for any business or organization. The Crisis Center has proven to be a valuable resource in the communities where they operate but this policy is definitely one that residents feel is need of review. 

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Casie Bryant is the NW Georgia Regional Manager for AllOnGeorgia.

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