Donation boxes | You asked for it

Which organization’s clothing donation box most deserves my old Levi’s?

Photograph: Jessica Zerby

I have bags of used clothes that I want to get rid of, and I started to realize that there are a number of clothing donation boxes in parking lots across the city. Can you give me an idea of what each is about, so I can decide which org most deserves my old Levi’s?

The Gaia Movement The environmental nonprofit sells donated clothing from its 250 green bins dotting the city directly to secondhand wholesale dealers and shops for cash. Several media outlets and the Better Business Bureau have questioned how much of that money, if any, goes to legit enviro programs.

Go Green for the Cause For-profit recycling companies empty the more than 200 white boxes scattered throughout the Chicago area, and pay Go Green for the donated clothing. The nonprofit then donates the proceeds to other nonprofits, particularly ones that support breast cancer causes and children with special needs.

USAgain With about 1,450 green-and-white drop boxes in Chicagoland, the for-profit company sorts and sells bundles of clothes and shoes to wholesalers in the U.S. and abroad, or to textile recyclers who turn unusable items into things like wiping rags and insulation blankets.

Vietnam Veterans of America Donations Consider your heartstrings tugged. This nonprofit uses all proceeds from its canary blue drop boxes (there are ten in Chicago) to fund support programs like counseling for Iraq and Afghanistan vets. The VVA peddles the donations in bulk to resale shops including Unique Thrift Store.

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