ReStore combating dumping, thefts

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Habitat staff pleads to community for better behavior

The South Barry County Habitat for Humanity ReStore has been lending a helping hand at its current location since the summer of 2017, but this year especially, the facility is facing a growing problem — theft and dumping.

The ReStore offers all kinds of household goods and appliances in its nearly 6,000-square-foot building.

The habitat and ReStore missions are the same, putting God’s love in action, bringing people together to build homes, communities and hope.

But, the ReStore puts a focus on offering low-cost building supplies and household goods to the community.

Tabetha Cooper, ReStore manager, said the ReStore has always accepted donations in the same way, only during business hours.

Recently, the ReStore has been dealing with issues of theft and dumping on the property, which threatens the future of the facility itself.

“We allow donations during business hours, and we will often work with individuals outside of those hours when possible,” she said. “Business hours are Tuesday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.”

One of the reasons staff requests donating during those hours is to ensure that no trash is being left unattended.

“We want to have someone there to see what’s being left,” she said. “We are here to help people, and it seems that is being taken advantage of.”

Cooper said on some Tuesdays, the ReStore opens and hours are spent cleaning up trash that is strewn across the parking lot.

“We have a hard time keeping volunteers,” she said. “This only adds to the difficulty because volunteer hours are spent cleaning rather than helping.”

However, another consequence of dumping is theft.

“When people do dump things that can be used on a Saturday night when no one is here, it is left to the elements for days,” Cooper said. “We have had time where the weather destroyed everything that’s left outside — which helps no one in the long run.

“But, we also have people come by and just rummage through those items, taking what they want.”

Cooper said she understands sometimes people have to move quickly, and if they contact the ReStore during business hours or on Facebook, they can usually work outside of normal business hours for pickups and donations.

“We are being taken advantage of,” Cooper said. “People have left bags of dirty diapers here before. This is 2-3 hours of cleanup, plus costs for extra trash pickups.”

Cooper said they have attempted to put locks on the dumpster, but those get cut off, or trash just gets left all around the parking lot.

“People have tried to get into the ReStore,” she said. “We can see on the doors and windows. Once, people came and smashed all the windows set up for donation, that took us days to clean up.”

Cooper wants people to know this isn’t a victimless crime, and hours of work and materials are being taken away from people who really need them.

“Recently, our big box truck was broken into,” she said. “Luckily, we didn’t have anything in it. But, all of this adds up and threatens the future of our work.

“We want to be here for the community and do what we can to help. With the pandemic, there have been increased hardships. Don’t punish others because things are hard on you.”

Dana Kammerlohr, Cassville Police Chief, said dumping or littering, and trespassing could all result in a summons.

“It could be vandalism for damage of property,” she said. “We do extra patrols on weekends, but we encourage people to call the non-emergency line, 417-847-4911, if they notice anything.”

People can call the ReStore at 417-846-0110 to set up a time for drop-offs, or contact someone through Facebook at www.facebook.com/cassvillehabitatforhumanity.

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