Frustration, even anger, is rising at Ruth's House thrift shop in Lafayette Square.
Two months ago, the nonprofit shop had to spend money to dispose of a pile of useless junk that was left in a parking lot near the shop's donation bins.
From children's toilet training seats to broken laundry baskets to the front seat of a car, nothing in the junk pile could be resold at the thrift shop that serves many of the area's low-income individuals and families, in addition to being open to the general public.
It's happened again, shop officials said — only this time the unsellable junk dumped in the parking lot included a mattress, a wooden bed and metal bed frame, a broken vacuum cleaner, Christmas decorations, old appliances, coffee cups, tea cups, a lamp, vases, toys, glassware and other items.
"It's very disappointing and demoralizing," said Ruth's House board member Barbara Canyes. "Since reopening recently, we thoroughly cleaned the shop and we reorganized our extensive inventory. Everything has been moving along nicely and now we must contend with dumping."
Ruth's House accepts donations of used items that the shop sells at reduced prices, primarily to low-income people. Donated items are often left outside the shop where the junk has been dumped.
In addition to the added expense of having the pile of junk hauled away, shop manager Kimberley Smyly said the dumping will also take time away from shop staff members who, instead of loading the junk into the shop's dumpster, would rather be helping low-income clients who need clothing and household items.
"We'll have to delay some client visits to take care of this," Canyes said.
"Because we have no knowledge of where this stuff came from and its condition, we don't even want to touch it," Smyly said.
Smyly said she heard that a man who is being paid to do house clean-outs has been dumping what he collects in various areas of the city, including at Ruth's House and in a parking lot next door to the thrift shop.
Smyly said she hopes Capitol Waste, the city's trash pickup company, will take away the larger items dumped at the thrift shop. They include the mattress, bed and a chair.
"It's going to take a good amount of time,'' she said, "to load the rest of the junk into our dumpster."