Charity’s chagrin
by Scott Reese Willey
Sep 06, 2009 | 777 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Volunteers at the Beeville Vineyard pick up clothing scattered by thieves early Thursday morning. The  boxes of clothing were left at the charity sometime after closing time on Wednesday, despite signs that ban after-hour dropoffs.
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It happens all to often: someone drops off clothing, household items and even furniture at The Vineyard after hours — and thieves scatter the stuff before the charity opens in the morning.

It happened again on Wednesday night.

“Someone ignored the signs Wednesday evening and left a large donation at the back door of the Vineyard,” said Bettye Hale, director. “These boxes of items were vandalized after being left, even though we have signs posted on all doors asking people not to leave donations when no one is there to receive them. We have these signs posted because every time someone leaves a donation at the back doors when no one is here, vandals go through the boxes and leave a mess behind.”

Hale said she and her staff arrived Thursday morning to find a pile of clothes scattered behind the building. Cardboard boxes, which apparently contained the clothing, were ripped up and strewn about as well.

Some of the boxes of clothing were left in front of the building’s gutter system. In the past rain water captured by the gutter channeled to the downspout to the ground below has ruined clothing, she said.

Some people also have dropped off furniture items behind the Vineyard, she said. Oftentimes, the furniture is ruined by rain or damaged or even stolen by vandals, she said.

Other times the furniture is in such bad condition it has to be hauled away, at the Vineyard’s expense, she said.

“We tried putting up a barricade to keep people from dropping off donations after hours,” Hale said. “We even put up signs on the barricade — and someone stole the signs!”

And the barricade didn’t help either.

“They just dumped the boxes over the barricade and left,” said volunteer Susan Vickery.

Volunteer Alice Weyenberg was at the point of tears.

“I consider Mrs. Bettye a saint for what she is doing here and for her to have to clean up this mess is... well, someone ought to be ashamed.”

Hale said she is more than willing to show up after hours, or have a volunteer show up, if someone has a donation and cannot drop it off by closing time.

“All they have to do is call us and we’ll have someone here,” she said. “But if they drop it off and there’s no one here, then people will come here and go through it and make a mess.”

Hale said the Vineyard has a security officer, who has taken photos of the vandals in action.

“We got a photograph of the vehicle’s license plate and gave it to the police but nothing ever happened,” she said. “We never heard back from them.”

Recently, sacks of clothing dropped off at the Vineyard after hours or on weekends turned up inside an abandoned house next door.

“They’re going to demolish the house and we were told that there were sacks of clothing inside,” she said. “We went over there and sure enough there were sacks of clothing that had been dropped off at the Vineyard. Some vagabonds were living in the home at the time and I guess they came over and took the bags.”

Weyenberg said the clothing left lying around Thursday morning will have to be washed before it can be given away to the needy.

That means more expense for the Vineyard, Vickery said.

Anyone wishing to drop off donations after hours may call the Vineyard at 358-7500 to have someone there to accept the items.

The Vineyard is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the summer.

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