We've all seen the Idaho Youth Ranch donation huts across the Treasure Valley - and while you may be donating to help those less fortunate in our area, a spokesperson for the organization says some people use their donation centers to dump their garbage.
"Unfortunately sometimes people confuse 'donate' with 'dump,' " said Jeff Myers with the Idaho Youth Ranch.
Every day, piles of junk are left at the organization's doorstep and donation huts.
"More often than not it's things like a broken-down chair that obviously should've gone to the landfill," said Myers.
Myers says the organization faces the challenge of figuring out what to do with trashed items.
"Our only alternative for most of these kinds of things is to take them to the landfill," he said. "Sometimes I think people think, 'Well it's convenient I'll just drop it off there maybe they'll find something they can do with it.' If it's a broken chair, or something stained, we can't do anything with it either."
Every box, every truckload taken to the landfill, adds up and takes chunks out of the organization's budget.
"Last year that cost us over half a million dollars," said Myers. "Those things just take away from our ability to help kids."
Inside, 1,300 boxes of hard goods, like kitchen items or decor, and around 600 boxes full of clothes are waiting to be sorted.
From there, the items deemed as trash will go to one of the three compactors on site.
"They get emptied multiple times each and every week," said Myers. "That money that we have to spend on trash otherwise would have gone to help the kids of Idaho, the most vulnerable kids of Idaho."
With a waiting list for almost all of the programs the Idaho Youth Ranch has to offer, Myers sees firsthand how the children are impacted by this growing issue.
"I see one of the reasons we can't get as much help to them as they need is because people are using us as a dumping ground, and that hurts," he said. "When people take advantage of that it dilutes the efforts of everyone else and makes it harder for us to help Idaho kids."
Another issue at the donation huts is theft.
"There's some people who go around to those huts and take things and think it's just a free place for them to get it and that's stealing," said Myers. "They're not just stealing from us they're stealing from the kids of Idaho who are on the waiting lists who are looking for help from the most traumatic situations you could imagine."
Myers says he encourages those who wish to donate to do so during store hours and to not leave any items outside of the donation huts. He says even if they are usable items, they could get destroyed by the weather.
Myers also says there are certain items, like mattresses, that the organization no longer accepts. For a full list of acceptable donations click here.