Illawarra residents dumping on the Salvos

When Salvation Army volunteers turn up to work this morning, they will be faced with a load of rubbish.

Chances are it will have been picked through, thrown around, even urinated upon. Certainly none of it will be in a good enough condition for sale.

Salvation Army area manager Philip Cooke said illegal dumping was a massive problem for many charitable organisations, and the Salvos was no exception.

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"We have seven stores in the Illawarra - the one in Westfield Warrawong is not an issue for illegal dumping but our other six stores cop their fair share," he said.

"Every year we are closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day and when we get back to work the day after, it takes hours to clean up the mess.

"It's a blatant attempt by people to get rid of their rubbish. We find things like leftover food scraps, half a door, old car tyres, half a fridge - no-one in their right mind could think we'd be able to sell stuff like that.

"Even if the items are decent to start with, by the time people go through them and pick stuff they want, by the time the wind and the rain gets to them, by the time people throw them around and smash them through the windows of adjoining buildings and even urinate on them - then there's no way we can sell them."

Mr Cooke said the charity regularly lost some of its volunteers at this time of year, as they could not face the clean-up.

"We've had volunteers who have been with us for 20 years who leave on Christmas Eve and tell us they won't be back till January - not because they want a holiday, but because they can't cope with the clean up," he said.

"Imagine if you turned up to work after a couple of days off and the entrance was piled with rubbish, and you had to help clean it up in order to start the day's trading - it wouldn't put a smile on your face would it?"

The cost of the clean-up was huge - Mr Cooke said a couple of years ago the organisation estimated it cost $5 million annually to clear up illegal dumping across the nation.

"We've got to clean up, then take everything to the tip - not only is it inconvenient and unpleasant for our workers, there's a cost involved," he said.

Mr Cooke said the dumping put a negative slant on the generally positive and giving attitude of the Illawarra community.

"We certainly do appreciate the support of the Illawarra community," he said.

"We would just ask that if people do have goods to donate, that they drop them off during business hours or that they call us and we will come and pick them up."

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