New donation bins move in, local groups question cause

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EUGENE, Ore. -- The Chicago-based nonprofit 'Gaia Movement' is looking to expand it's mission to Lane County, which has prompted some local organizations to challenge how the newcomer uses the donated goods.

So far there are about ten of the Gaia Movement's big, green boxes scattered around the county. The 7-foot tall donation bins ask people to drop off clothing and shoes.

"The Gaia Movement is about keeping clothes out of the landfill and keeping them in the system," said Kevin Escobar, operations manager for the Gaia Movement in Oregon.

Escobar said the non-profit takes the donated clothes and sells them to second-hand stores. The operations manager said that the money raised keeps Gaia staff employed and funds several environmental projects and other programs around the world.

"Oregon, just like everywhere else in this country, is still throwing away a lot of clothes," Escobar said.

While donations in the Gaia Movement bins are converted into cash for other projects, some non-profits aren't satisfied with how efficiently they are giving back. According to, a leading national charity watchdog, the Gaia Movement spends a relatively low amount of its profits on program services.

Saint Vincent de Paul director Terry McDonald said it is important for people to understand where their donations are actually going. Local non-profits often rely on community involvement to keep going.

"The gathering of these resources is a critical part of what we do," McDonald said. "Not only do we create the jobs and employment, the profits then go back in to the housing and the services. But it also provides the stuff their way that stuff doesn't get out."

McDonald said it is also easier to keep track of how your donations are used when you give locally.