Store closure leaves donations, dumped items piling up

Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 9:37 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - For years neighbors tell 10/11 NOW the alley behind the Salvation Army Family Store in Lincoln has had problems with an overflow of donations and even junk behind left behind.

Lately, things have gotten worse because the location closed down this month, but people have still been dropping things off outside.

“I’ve called the city, I’ve called the health department I’ve called my city councilman the city attorney, the county attorney,” said Nathan Rice, who lives in the neighborhood.

Rice said that he’s lived across the alley from the drop-off site and that it’s been an ongoing problem he and his neighbors have noticed for years.

“Just today there were four motorcycle tires and a can of oil that’s spilled all over the alleyway now and nobody’s gonna come clean that up and it’s gonna get washed into the sewer line and its a continuing problem,” Rice said.

Lots of the pile-up used to happen over the weekend and was taken inside or addressed by store employees come Monday but since the closure, nobody is around full-time to do that much-needed clean-up.

“So people come up and they just toss stuff out and then they drive off and if nobody is here to collect it just continues to sit and build up,” Rice said.

The store was managed by the Salvation Army based in Omaha. They tell 10/11 NOW:

“We are aware of the situation at our former Lincoln thrift store location, and we are working to address it. Staff have been stopping by regularly to pick up trash and other unwanted items. We have ordered additional signage that’s currently en route from a sign-making company; once in place, it will remind the public to not dump items on the property and to instead call us to arrange a pick-up time for their donated items. Any Lincoln resident who wants to donate household items can simply call 1-800-SA-TRUCK to schedule a time for us to drive out and pick up those items. Furthermore, we are currently searching for a new thrift store location and hope to announce more details in the near future. We are grateful to the Lincoln community for its continued understanding and support.”

It’s a change Rice hopes to see moving forward. There is signage on the front of the store letting people know that it’s closed for good, but he said getting something installed in the back would be a better way to let people know. Because many of those dumping items and donations are using the alley and not passing by the front of the store on their way.

“It’s not like there are no tools to handle this problem I just wanna see those tools utilized,” Rice said.

This problem is also on the radar of local health officials. The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department said they have an ongoing investigation into the dumping at this site that’s been going on for the past two years.

Illegal dumping isn’t just a problem at this vacant store either. Back in 2020, the City of Lincoln changed its city code to make illegal dumping at places like recyclable collection sites punishable with a fine of $500 and up to six months in jail.