Donating instead of Disposing

The Gazette
Oct 22, 1995
By George Sauerberg Gazette staff writer

Donating instead of Disposing

Your old sofa has gone through so many crops of couch potatoes that some of them saw “Green Acres” before it sprang up as syndicated reruns.

The sofa is usable, but you want to get rid of it to make room for a new one. A number of agencies in the Cedar Rapids area accept used furniture, appliances, clothing and other items for resale, reuse or recycling.

Someone will get good use out of them, and many agencies will give you documentation for tax deductions on donations. Some firms even pay you for dropping off metal items — such as gutters and cast-iron sinks — that they can recycle. (See accompanying box for details.)

People who live outside Linn County should check their phone book or agencies in their area.

Keeping that sofa out of a landfill cushions the blow to the environment — and your pocketbook. Disposing of it in a Linn County landfill could cost $13.

Computers and accessories such as monitors and printers can be recycled, too.

The types and condition of items that organizations will accept vary widely.

“We’ll take just about anything that’s usable,” says Bob Crawford, president of the Cedar Rapids-Marion District Council of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. The society provides free or low-cost furniture, clothing and other items to people in need.

The organization does not have the facilities or personnel to repair stoves, washers, dryers or refrigerators, so they need to be in working condition, Crawford says. The agency doesn’t take water beds because of possible leaks.

People can bring items to the St. Vincent de Paul Salvage Center, 928 Seventh St. SE, or can arrange for the society to send a truck to make a pickup (two days’ notice is preferred).

Salvation Army facilities take usable furniture, appliances that work, clothing and knickknacks such as cups, plates and silverware, says Jerry Craig. He is a supervisor of six thrift stores, including two in Cedar Rapids and one in Marion. Sale of the items funds the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center, 2920 First Ave. NE. The Salvation Army is a church that tries to rehabilitate men who come from various walks of life, Craig explains.

People can drop off items at the center or one of the stores, or can call to arrange a free pickup.

Goodwill Industries of Southeast Iowa accepts furniture that’s good enough to go right on its sales floor, says John Koch, director of operations. That organization doesn’t do repair work. Goodwill takes smaller appliances such as toasters, microwaves, television sets, stereos and tape players, and computer-related devices.

THE MONEY Goodwill gets from resales goes toward training and job opportunities for people with disabilities.

Goodwill of Southeast Iowa has seven stores and two plants. In Cedar Rapids, items can be brought to two stores — 2325 16th Ave. SW or 150 Collins Rd. NE — or its plant, 1441 Blairs Ferry Rd. NE.

One firm that takes used computers is Computer Renaissance, 1146 Blairs Ferry Rd. NE, which pays for some equipment — such as $50 to $75 for a VGA monitor, depending on its condition, and $15 for a 3.5-inch, high-density floppy disk (1.44 Meg). Prices on many items vary, says Jeff Roemerman, an owner-manager. Since the shop’s inventory changes daily, he asks that people call before dropping something off. Items are tested to make sure they’re in working order.

Many types of metals can be brought to Marion Iron Co., 2605 Seventh Ave., Marion. The prices the firm pays you vary daily, depending on market values, says Marvin Brown, vice president. The firm will take major appliances such as washers and dryers if they’re stripped of everything but the sheet metal.

North Star Recycling, 6305 11th St.SW, would pay about $2.50 for a cast-iron sink weighing 100 pounds, says office manager Janet Marion.

Eco Youth Salvage takes reusable items — including kitchen sinks, cabinets, doors, carpets and computers. It accepts working stoves, refrigerators and water heaters. Metro High School is a partner with Metro Area Housing Program Inc. (MAHP) to identify students to participate.

“THESE MATERIALS are used to renovate MAHP rental units and in home ownership properties we renovate,”says Rollie Lobsinger, MAHP development director, who is in charge of Eco Youth. Surplus items are sold to the public. Lobsinger says people who wish to donate items should call to make arrangements.

Most furniture beyond repair or usefulness may be taken to landfills. Fees vary — usually depending on the load, which is weighed at the site. There may be per-item fees for white goods — appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, washers, dryers — which are accepted at most landfills, then recycled. Bluestem Solid Waste Agency, which serves Linn County with sites at 2250 A St. SW, Cedar Rapids, and 1954 County Home Rd., Marion, does not accept items such as contaminated soil, toxic waste or liquids.

Among organizations that accept items for recycling and/or resale in the Cedar Rapids area are:
• Computer Renaissance, 1146 Blairs Ferry Rd. NE. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Call 378-4274 before taking an item in.
• Eco Youth Salvage program of Metro Area Housing Program Inc., warehouse at 93 Ninth Ave. SE. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. To make arrangements for donating materials, call 363-2330.
Goodwill Industries of Southeast Iowa, seven stores and two plants. Drop off hours at Cedar Rapids stores, 2325 16th Ave.SWand150CollinsRd.NE,9a.m.to6p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday; 9a.m.to5p.m.Saturday; noon to 5p.m.Sunday. Plant at 1441 Blairs Ferry Rd. NE is staffed from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; 8:30 a.m.
to 4 p.m. Sunday. Call 393-3434.
Marion Iron Co.,2605 Seventh Ave., Marion. 8 a.m. to 4:30
p.m. Monday through Friday. Call 377-1527; ask for scrap department.
• North Star Recycling, 6305 11th St.SW.8 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call 365-0741.
St. Vincent de Paul Salvage Center, 928 Seventh St. SE 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Call 365-5091. To have items picked up, call two days in advance (no charge).
Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center, 2920 First Ave . NE. Thrift stores:717ThirdAve.SE(365-9333) and4516th Ave. S W (365-4411), both in Cedar Rapids; 3335 Seventh Ave., Marion (377-2429). Items can be dropped off at center, from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, or at stores from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily except Sunday. For a free pickup, call 365-1491.
• Information: “Bluestem Home & Business Recycling Companion,” free 80-page guide on recycling opportunities in Linn County, published by Bluestem Solid Waste Agency. For a copy, call 398-1278.