Residents in the Rego Park and Forest Hills area may have noticed a neon orange flier on their doorstep, advertising a clothing drive.
The flier claims the drive, sponsored by the New Jersey State Organization of Cystic Fibrosis, will “help New Jersey children breathe easy.”
But one resident became suspicious after she didn’t receive an official tax receipt.
“I have a ton of old clothes that I wanted to donate, so I put a bag of them in front of my house as the flier instructed,” Debbie Bergerson of Forest Hills said. “The paper said that they would pick up the clothes between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. and that they would leave a tax receipt when they came to pick the clothes up.”
Bergerson said when she arrived home there was no receipt, causing her to grow suspicious.
“Then I called the 800 number on the flier and it went to voicemail,” she said. “I left several messages but got no response.”
Bergerson said she suspected a scam but further investigation showed that the clothing drive was indeed sponsored by the Organization of Cystic Fibrosis, sort of.
“We have a vendor who handles the clothing drive,” Debra Sikkema, the executive director of the organization, said. “They collect the clothes and then we get a set amount of funds for the organization. The amount varies since it depends on how much clothing is collected. Obviously, the more clothing that is collected, the more funds we receive.”
Sikkema said the funds come from selling the clothing overseas, a strategy used by clothing drives held around the country. While the flier doesn’t explicitly state what will be done with the clothing, the New Jersey State Organization of Cystic Fibrosis is not breaking any laws by selling the items.
Sikkema would not provide the name of the vendor but said they can be reached by calling 1 (800) 915-9955.