Planet Aid seeks donations in city
The yellow Planet Aid donation boxes on the Tonganoxie High School campus might be new here, but they're part of a growing number in the region.
Planet Aid has 520 donation boxes in the 100-mile stretch from Topeka to Harrisonville, Mo.
"We still need to get more locations," said Jessica Wexler, Planet Aid territory manager. "I want to find 30 more locations."
The five boxes, which collect donations of clothes, shoes and toys, appeared in Tonganoxie about two months ago. The boxes are located just south of Beatty Field on Main Street. They're emptied once a week.
"Right now, we're trying to be more efficient statewide and expand in the Midwest," Wexler said. "We want to fill in the gaps within the major cities."
So where are the donations going?
After the weekly collection, drivers bring the donations to the Planet Aid Kansas City, Mo., office, 1403 Murray St.
After the drivers check the donations, they put them into bags. The bags are then placed in storage on a baler, about the size of a small vehicle. Planet Aid sells the products to international wholesalers by the bale.
The organization uses the money to fund various projects in Africa focused on education and HIV awareness.
Here's a sample of what Planet Aid would do internationally for example: Five hundred dollars would allow 160 people to be involved in a child AIDS project in Zimbabwe for a year.
One thousand dollars for example, would employ four field officers in a Planet Aid AIDS awareness program in Mozambique. Each field officer educates 2,000 people about the causes and prevention of HIV.
Planet Aid has been in Kansas City since February 2005. The non-profit organization started 10 years ago in Boston.
"We want to make it convenient for someone who's not active to take part in bettering our community as a whole and in the world," Wexler said. "You don't have to be active to drop a bag of clothes off. Just dropping it off makes a difference."
The Good Shepherd Thrift Shop and Food Bank, 304 E. Fourth St., hasn't seen a slip in the amount of clothing donations it's been receiving with the Planet Aid boxes in town.
In fact, the thrift store didn't accept donations for three weeks this summer because it had so many donations pile up. The thrift store remained open during that time.
"I don't think it bothers us one way or the other," said Dorothy Dunlap, manager and treasurer of the thrift store. "There's always people getting rid of clothes."
The thrift store is actually hurting the most for food donations this summer. Dunlap said she's had to buy a considerable amount of food -- more than in previous years -- to keep the pantry fresh.
Dunlap said reasons for the decrease in food donations could be increased gasoline prices and the time of year. In the past, the thrift store has relied on school food drives to heavily contribute to the pantry. Now that school is back in session, Dunlap said she would hope for an increase in future food donations.