Springfield residents looking to clean their homes now have a place to bring any clothes, tools, and appliances they no longer need, courtesy of a new GreenDrop donation center that opened at the Saratoga Shopping Center on Oct. 14.
GreenDrop operates free-standing donation centers throughout the mid-Atlantic region to collect lightly worn clothing, used electronics, and household goods that are then converted into funding for charities that have partnered with the organization.
Taking the place of unmarked clothing drop-off bins, GreenDrop’s Springfield donation center is the company’s 32nd site overall, with others spread across Virginia, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania.
Fairfax County had two GreenDrop donation centers, both of them on Richmond Highway in Alexandria, before the Springfield one opened. The company is planning a Centreville location at the Centre Ridge Marketplace Shopping Center.
“We are excited to continue servicing the Springfield area and expanding donation options for residents,” GreenDrop CEO Tony Peressini said. “At GreenDrop, we’re committed to promoting the importance of recycling and repurposing, while providing the necessary resources for communities to get involved.”
GreenDrop got its start in the late 1950s as a thrift store company solely dedicated to raising funds for the Military Order of the Purple Heart, a Congressionally-chartered charity that provides support to military veterans and their families.
Founder William Stinnett’s grandson Chris Stinnett, an entrepreneur and former equestrian jumper, pivoted GreenDrop into its current form, where it repurposes formerly abandoned sites in accessible locations like convenience stores and gas stations into staffed donation centers.
The first such donation center opened in Aston, Pa., in 2012.
According to Peressini, GreenDrop started operating the donation centers in order to support multiple charities.
In addition to the Purple Heart, GreenDrop now works with the American Red Cross, the National Federation of the Blind, and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Philadelphia, a Catholic nonprofit that provides food, clothing, housing assistance, and other services to people in need.
GreenDrop generally determines where to put new donation sites after being approached by shopping center operators interested in hosting a center.
Because GreenDrop’s donation centers are supervised by an on-site attendant, they tend to be cleaner, more reliable, and more convenient than standalone, unsupervised collection sites, like the bins previously used at the Saratoga Shopping Center, Peressini says.
The attendant is also responsible for collecting donor information, such as their email and phone number, so that they can get an IRS tax receipt and for helping donors choose which charity they want their contribution to assist.
“In other instances in our industry, you’re not really provided a choice,” Peressini said. “If you’re dropping a bag or two off at an unattended bin…there’s no record of that donation, so we like to think of ourselves as the easy, convenient way to make clothing and household good donations in the mid-Atlantic.”
Along with visiting a donation centers, people can donate items to GreenDrop by scheduling a home pick-up. The company also offers a free home clean-out service where a professional consultant and drivers help clear out large volumes of clothing and other items and determine what can be donated.
GreenDrop currently serves about 5,000 donors daily in the mid-Atlantic region through its home pick-up service, according to Peressini.
GreenDrop raises money for its charity partners with the donated products by selling them at affiliated thrift stores and overseas. Some products are also recycled and broken down into fibers, leather, plastics, scrap metal, and other materials that can be used to manufacture new goods.
“Our expectation is hopefully to provide a good service to the local community there as well as to provide alternative ways for people to the community to give to a charity,” Peressini said. “Oftentimes, people think the only way that they can donate to a charity is by writing a check, and we provide an alternative to that by allowing people to donate clothing and household goods and helping the charity out that way.”
Peressini says GreenDrop hopes to add anywhere from five to 10 more sites in Fairfax County over the next 12 to 18 months.
“We’re excited to continue to grow into Fairfax County and look forward to being able to service the community even better,” Peressini said.