Thursday, September 29, 2016

Viewpoint: Editorial from Your Newspaper


There's perhaps no address more associated with helping local people in need than 402 N. Walker St. in Marion, but Crittenden County Assistance Center to some is apparently little different than Crittenden County Convenience Center. 

Sometimes referred to as simply the PACS office, the building that was once a public health department is actually home to much more. True, it is the site to access services from Pennyrile Allied Community Services, but it's also where Crittenden County Food Bank and the local American Red Cross call headquarters. 

Notice there's no mention of a garbage collection center. Unfortunately, some people feel that because the offices at the building accept donations for distribution to the less fortunate in our community, it's a good place to dump off their discarded items. Surely, somebody can use those clothes from the 1970s you cleaned out of Grandma's basement, right? 

And who couldn't make use of a washer or dryer that no longer works or a broken rocking horse for children? What about a piano? 

These unsolicited donations help no one. In fact, they cost the very people some intend to help with their junk. Because most of it is unfit for distribution, at the county taxpayers' expense, a crew is forced to make its way to the center and cart off other people's trash. And those workers haul it to the convenience center, the same place where the dumper was happy to avoid and save a few bucks. 

Recently, the county needed about 10 man-hours to clear away the mound of useless goods piled at the back door of the assistance center that included, yes, a piano. Such a move speaks highly of the motivation of the dumper. Just not for their discretion. 

A good rule of thumb? If it's too worn out to wear, too dirty to clean up, too broken to fix or it's something you wouldn't be caught dead with, it's not appropriate to believe it will help others. 

That’s our words, not the center’s, so feel free to call the center at (270) 965-4763 or stop by for a more technical definition of what helps. 

The less fortunate, the underprivileged and those down on their luck aren't a stray dog you leave scraps for each night. They are deserving of the same respect you give your neighbor, the person in the pew behind yours on Sunday morning or your own flesh and blood. True, there are people who work the system, but let the staff at the center do the needs-vetting. For those who still don't get it, dumping off your items at the center – or anywhere – under cover of night – or anytime – is illegal. 

That's right, if you get caught, you can face a stiff fine, jail time or both. Crittenden County Assistance Center encourages donations, and, in fact, needs them to carry out the various missions of the organizations who call it home. Cash donations can feed the hungry, help pay a heating bill for a senior on a fixed income or send a fan to a home without air in the depths of summer. 

Donations of new or gently used clothes can give a kid in tatters a boost of confidence or get a family back on their feet after a house fire. Furniture, toys and even appliances are accepted, but only if they are in once piece and working. By no means do we intend to discourage anyone from giving. Quite the opposite. 

We urge you to give more, but let it come from the heart, not a desire to save a few bucks at the dump. If you are uncertain how to help or want to find out current and pressing needs, just contact the center. They will thank you. The people you will help thank you. And the taxpayers tired of cleaning up others' junk thank you.