A charity in Jacksonville, Florida, called Go Green Charity Recyclers, is currently engaged in talks with the city council over their right to use unattended donation bins in the city. Many of us are familiar with the bins, but if you’re not, they are free standing bins that people can use as a drop-off point for clothes, shoes, and other items they want to donate.
Earlier this year however, Jacksonville passed an ordinance that banned the bins within the city. They cited neighborhood blight as their reasoning, arguing that the bins are eyesores. Those of us familiar with the bins have probably also seen garbage pile up by them, either donated items that wouldn’t fit or simply garbage that was too big to fit in the can back home. The city council argued that, when that garbage isn’t claimed by the organizations that control the bins, it becomes a nuisance.
That may be true, but it’s hardly the charity’s fault if somebody dumps a car fender by their donation bin. Still, the ordinance passed and owners faced an August 1 deadline to remove the bins or face fines and city removal. The ordinance says nothing about staffed trailers used for donations, and doesn’t affect thrift stores that accept donations.
Go Green Charity Recyclers, who raised money for educational and water systems in Haiti, raised money by selling donations. They are arguing that, by preventing them from using donation bins, the council is violating their first amendment rights, by preventing them from carrying out their right to free speech in asking for donations.
That seems a little questionable, since they are a charity organization and not an individual who actually has those rights, but if they end up going to court over this, and winning, it could establish some interesting precedents as pertains to charities and speech. So far, both sides are trying to work something out behind closed doors first.