by Millstone staff
The Hub’s Glenda Jones reported in the Millstone on the spread in Almonte of wooden ‘green bins’ soliciting used clothing donations. She noted that the bins are in no way affiliated with any Mississippi Mills charities, and expressed concern that citizens may wrongly assume donations to them benefit the town.
It turns out ours is not the only Ontario community worried about these mysterious bins, which bear the logo of the ‘Canadian Community Support Foundation’ (CCSF).
The Chatham Daily News reported last November:
Collecting unwanted used clothing is the financial foundation of some charitable organizations.
However, there is growing concern this important source of revenue will be impacted by charities with connections to for-profit companies.
Capt. Stephanie Watkinson, family services director with Chatham-Kent Salvation Army, worries about several used clothing donation bins that have suddenly cropped up around the community.
She fears the charity listed on the donation bins — Canadian Community Support Foundation — will take proceeds out of the community when “we’re going to be struggling here trying to meet the need.”
The Cornwall Standard Freeholder, meanwhile, described the concerns of an area merchant about the impact of the bins, while the Welland Tribune reported on a decision last July by local council to regulate the bins.
Lawsuit in Windsor
Perhaps the most heated dispute over the CCSF bins is in Windsor, where the director of the Essex-Kent-Lambton Goodwill, Kevin Smith, is facing litigation following a letter to the City in which in which he expressed concerns about the bins. A Windsor Star story cites Smith’s concerns over the organization’s relationship with the corporate entity Textile Waste Diversion Inc.
The Star story quoted then-executive director of the CCSF Daniela Siggia — who now works for the same Textile Waste Diversion company cited by Smith – as saying “Mr. Smith has been going to locations and slandering us, and getting (business owners) to not want the bins anymore.”
The Star also says “the Sarnia-Lambton Chamber of Commerce has gone on record that unapproved donation bins should be treated as trespassing, and are cause for liability concerns.”
The Millstone investigates
So who and what exactly are the Canadian Community Support Foundation and Textile Waste Diversion Inc, and what is the relation between them? That’s not at all clear.
A search of a Canada Revenue Agency database reveals that CCSF is indeed a registered charity, having been granted business number 837585041RR0001 on February 13 2013. Its address is shown as being in a Carp industrial park.
Location of CCSF head office as reported by Canada Revenue Agency.
A search of Ontario corporation records shows that the name Textile Waste Diversion was registered on February 5 2013, by a company carrying on business as 2230293 ONTARIO INC, with an office address in Burlington, Ontario. The name of the registrant is Giuseppe Siggia. As noted above, Siggia is also the surname of the original CCSF director. The company’s business is “used clothing collection & recycling.”
Jester’s’s co-founder, Jen Cartier, also produces a Rogers Cable show called House Healers with her husband Brennan Cartier. In 2012, CTV News reported on a dispute between the Ottawa Neighbourhood Services and a different used-clothing bin operation. A Brennan Cartier responded to CTV on behalf of the operation, but “would not say which charities his company helps.”
In this recent press release from a Windsor youth agency, a Brennan Cartier is identified as a ‘regional director’ of the CCSF.
What they say about each other
The CCSF site appears to make no mention of Textile Waste Diversion, while Textile Waste Diversion displays several links to CCSF and says, “Textile Waste Diversion Inc. is proud to support the Canadian Community Support Foundation… we estimate that we will be donating approximately $90,000 to the Foundation in the next fiscal year.” It describes itself as “a family owned and operated recycling company.”
Textile Waste Diversion makes no reference to its doing business with any other organization that we can find.
The CCSF website, meanwhile, describes its purpose as “providing a safety net for those at risk of falling through the cracks. In addition to our own efforts to feed and clothe Canadians in need, we provide assistance to existing charities within our community.” It says the group has “recently worked with” a total of six charities, including Ottawa United Way and the Ontario SPCA.
A notice on the Ottawa Street bin says, “Our bins are maintained by a proud member of the Recycling Council of Ontario”, beside which is the logo of Textile Waste Diversion.
What to think?
It’s hard to know what to make of all this. The two groups — one a charity and the other for-profit — were created 8 days apart in 2013, and the for-profit component appears to exist only as an adjunct to the charity. As well, the original director of the charity, Daniela Siggia, now works for the for-profit company, which was registered by someone with the same last name.
There is nothing necessarily improper or unethical in any of this. Many charities rely on close alliances with the private sector for funding, support and advice. But this alliance seems closer than most. It would surely benefit all involved were the exact relationship between the two made clearer.
What is clear is that the CCSF ‘green bins’ dotting Mississippi Mills do not return any direct benefit to our community, and in fact may be causing it harm by potentially diverting well-meant donations that would otherwise go to the Hub. And it’s also clear that other municipalities are starting to take a hard look at such programs.
We believe our own Council should do the same.