Collection boxes in Pensacola are being trashed and possibly removed for good

Source: Renee Beninate

Broken pots, random shoes and trash bags surrounded a Teen Challenge donation box in Pensacola.

Organizers said keeping the area around the boxes clean is a constant battle.

"With them constantly taking things from there, pulling it out of there and leaving messes as you can see over here," said Seth Eskelinen, the store manager of Teen Challenge Thrift Store in Pensacola.

Eskelinen said people look at the boxes as a 'free for all', going in and stealing donated items.

"I was kinda upset because it happens over and over again. I tell them- I say hey guys if you need something, just ask. You know, you don't have to take it," Eskelinen added.

He said it's upsetting because what you drop off is supposed to help those in need.

Items donated are sold at thrift stores.

The money then made goes toward helping those who suffer from addiction get back on their feet.

"People that are putting these donations in here, they're expecting it to go Teen Challenge and not to random people that are just coming and taking it," Eskalinen said.

Now he's considering removing the boxes for good.

Waterfront Rescue Mission decided to do away with collection boxes about a decade ago for similar reasons.

"There were people living in the boxes, there were dead animals that were found, but most of the time we found household trash," said Angie Ishee with Waterfront Rescue. "Not just unsellable merchandise, people were literally dumping their trash in the bins."

Customers said they were also disappointed by what they've seen.

"I've watched people scavenge through my stuff when the store was closed which I thought was perhaps not proper," Tom Armstrong said.

It's an issue they all said they're hoping can soon be resolved.

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