'Disgusting' act outside Salvos store: 'Broke my heart'

A Queensland woman says she's "disgusted" with a recurring act outside her local Salvation Army store and has issued a warning to people wanting to donate to the charity.

Amber Johnstone visited the Smithfield store in Cairns on Sunday evening to find items dropped off at the site strewn across the car park.

She told Yahoo News Australia it's a "very common occurrence" and the situation is "very sad".

Ms Johnstone says donated goods left outside the store after business hours are being sifted through by people and left in a mess afterwards.

Various scattered items left outside the Smithfield Salvos store in Cairns. Source: Amber Johnstone
Items left for the Salvation Army had been targeted by opportunists, a local resident says. Source: Amber Johnstone

Taking to social media, she shared images of items littered across the car park, including several odd shoes, and shared video of her attempts to clean it up.

"I am disgusted [at] the way some people think it’s OK to trash someone else’s property, especially [at] these stores like the Salvos," she said.

"It broke my heart! I couldn’t leave without tidying it up a bit."

The store has several donation bins however many items left at the entrance were too large to fit inside. It is unclear if the bins were full, as to why other items were left.

Ms Johnstone advised anyone wanting to leave items with the store to wait until they are open and a member of staff can take them.

The store declined questions when contacted by Yahoo News Australia.

One team member from the store responded to Ms Johnstone's post stating she faces piles of donations on arrival every Monday.

Yahoo has contacted the Salvation Army for comment.

Cairns Regional Council states fines can apply for illegal dumping outside of op shops, with infringement notices of $2,205 enforceable.

Scattered donations outside the Salvos store and (far right) red donation bins. Source: Amber Johnstone
It is unclear if the donation bins at the Salvos site (pictured far right) were full. Source: Amber Johnstone

Covid prompts rise in donations — but it's not all positive

Op shops say they have seen a boom in donations amid the pandemic however there has been a downside to the increasing intake.

Items are often being dumped outside shop fronts, with some unsuitable for resale.

Omer Soker, CEO of Charitable Recycling Australia, told Yahoo News Australia last month it was vital for donors to avoid leaving items outside without the knowledge of the store.

"We also continue to educate the public about responsible donating and encourage donors to only leave donations inside shops or charity bins, never outside as they likely cannot be used due to spoilage from the weather, or tampering and create unnecessary waste," Mr Soker said.

"Please always donate in store or inside a donation bin, remembering that if you wouldn’t give it to a friend, please don’t donate it to a charity."

Yahoo last year shared disturbing images of items strewn across the pavement in Sydney's affluent suburb of Waverley.

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