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Backpacks for Augusta school giveaway sent with mold, other problems

Friday, Aug 3, 2012 2:28 PM
Last updated Saturday, Aug 4, 2012 9:57 PM
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When the boxes arrived on her doorstep, Monique Braswell was not prepared for what was inside.

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Monique Braswell ordered 2,500 backpacks from DollarDays.com, and said about 1,000 were damaged.    TRACEY MCMANUS/STAFF
TRACEY MCMANUS/STAFF
Monique Braswell ordered 2,500 backpacks from DollarDays.com, and said about 1,000 were damaged.

The Richmond County Council of PTAs president’s back-to-school drive is scheduled for Aug. 11, so she ordered 2,500 backpacks from online school supply company DollarDays.com to give away at the event.

The first 1,500 showed up Thursday, and when she ripped into the cardboard, the stench of mold hit her. She pulled the backpacks from the first box and found broken zippers, tears, holes and specks of mold lining the insides. About 1,000 were like that, she said.

“I cried a long time,” Braswell said Friday. “I woke up this morning crying. We are less than seven days outside giving this event, and we don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Braswell contacted the company Thursday night and got a response by Friday afternoon. Jason Pedersen, DollarDays’ vice president of sales, said he would replace all damaged bags, which he estimated at 386. Braswell estimated their number to be about 1,000. Pedersen said he will continue to monitor the PTA’s order to replace any bags that are unsatisfactory.

“It’s unacceptable quality,” Pedersen said. “It’s not something that we’re used to putting out.”

Pedersen said that Braswell ordered several varieties of book bags and that most of the damage came from one manufacturer, which his company has since taken off the Web site. Others got wet in shipping, which accounts for the mold, he said.

“It comes on a slow boat from China, is the old saying,” Pedersen said, adding that his company is willing to replace any more bags Braswell finds damaged.

The backpacks were purchased with $9,000 of PTA money donated by members. At the school kick-off event Aug. 11, the PTA plans to offer health screenings, haircuts, face painting and information sessions. And, it hopes, backpacks.

Although the bags will be replaced, Braswell said the issue puts pressure on her and 30 volunteers to get the event rolled out in time. The group still has to receive and take all the bags to James Brown Arena in time for distribution.

“It’s sad we were about to give these kids these dirty book bags,” said Braswell’s son Tahj Manigault, 11, who helped inspect the bags. “It’s ridiculous.”

PTA member Bonita Times said she was disappointed with the bags that were in salvageable condition. Even those, Times said, had to be washed.

Times and Braswell said they are grateful they started inspecting the bags early. They had planned to keep the bags in boxes and unload them for the first time the day of the event.

“This was terrible, but could have been worse,” Times said. “It’s a good thing we started early.”

Comments (12) Add comment
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PhiloPublius
386
Points
PhiloPublius 08/03/12 - 02:50 pm
2
1
Wait a minute...

Kids these days buy jeans with holes in them don't they?

Maybe this was a design feature?

paperhearts
99
Points
paperhearts 08/03/12 - 03:13 pm
3
1
dollar days

I feel bad for them, but I went to that website and you get what you pay for. I would never have purchased something from there, just from the look of the site. Who is in control of their purchasing decisions? Want quality bookbags for kids? Don't buy them from a place called dollar days.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 08/03/12 - 03:31 pm
2
1
The website does refer to the

The website does refer to the "high quality" of their products repeatedly. Replacing the bags they found lacking in quality is not really enough. They should comp them or give them credit for next year. Something. Customer service is more than just acknowledging you failed, it's making it right.

kellys
5
Points
kellys 08/04/12 - 10:33 am
3
0
Mold/damaged backpacks

A suggestion for future PTA orders is to call on a local promotional product businesses for competitve quotes and exceptional customer service. There are many local reputable promotional product businesses in Augusta. Shop local first!!

bubbasauce
20727
Points
bubbasauce 08/04/12 - 11:39 am
1
0
You get what you pay for!

You get what you pay for! Made in China, do I need to say anything more, didn't think so.

resident
489
Points
resident 08/04/12 - 12:18 pm
2
0
Uderstandable but...

I can understand the purpose is most for the dollar but I agree there is plenty of local companies that do this same thing...I am sure it is most like some of them contain the same made in China JUNK as well. I bet if the PTA took some effort Jansport might have even donated some or sold the cheap enough to cover a large portion of the students

ridesbrd
112
Points
ridesbrd 08/04/12 - 01:07 pm
2
1
Way to buy junk off the

Way to buy junk off the Internet....Shop local!

I'm sure you can exchange them anyways....

proud2bamerican
441
Points
proud2bamerican 08/04/12 - 01:09 pm
0
0
agree with "kelly"

Furthermore, it sure seems like "$9000" could be better spent than on cheap backpacks that most kids will not use. Kids are very picky these days and they will take them, but many will not even get used. If that much money can be raised for backpacks it might be a good idea for schools to raise money for free breakfasts, lunches and whatever else we are draining tax payers income to cover. Meanwhile we are already paying hundreds of thousands into each school while producing children unprepared for higher education. Backpacks?

lddist
101
Points
lddist 08/04/12 - 01:10 pm
0
0
I guess I'm just cold

I guess I'm just cold hearted...
'PTA member Bonita Times said she was disappointed with the bags that were in salvageable condition. Even those, Times said, had to be washed.'
so what if they need to be washed. They are free.

swinter05
5
Points
swinter05 08/04/12 - 01:16 pm
2
0
I think it is a very noble

I think it is a very noble thing our community and churches do for the less fortunate. However, I can't help but struggle with the fact that by doing these things year after year, we are enabling parents that should take some kind of responsibility. Anyone that absolutely no income at all or a tragedy has happened (house burned down, high medical bills bc of illness, etc) should be the recipients of this event. Not those that have money coming in, regardless of the source, that already get free food and healthcare. Americans have NO idea what it would TRULY be like, to be dirt poor. It doesn't exist here in America. I say we hold parents accountable and if they can't purchase the basics for their child's education, bc they choose to use their money on other unnecessary things or bc they just know that they can get it for free, then take away their rights as parents.

proud2bamerican
441
Points
proud2bamerican 08/04/12 - 01:25 pm
1
0
priorities

When people are not handed everything that they do not 'want' to spend their money on, where is the motivation to 'do it yourself'? I sacrifice for my kids to have what they need. When the families come to the Arena to get their free haircuts, backpacks, health screenings, etc. I will see many with manicures, hairstyles, cars and i-phones that I would not spend money on or I could not pay for my family needs either! Priorities, accountability...all out the window?! As a minimum one would think providing a first page copy of income from tax return would be reasonable to receive benefits. Many know better than me, but on many counts we are not 'helping' anyone.

GaStang22
910
Points
GaStang22 08/04/12 - 04:59 pm
0
0
How much have you people donated?
Unpublished

All of you saying should have bought higher quality or not from a place called dollar days, why don't you tell them where to get backpacks for 3-4 dollars each? How much have you chipped in for backpacks for needy kids? It's easy to sit back and talk smack when you have nothing to do with the process of giving to the needy children! I have many quality products made in China. Also some dollar store stuff is the same stuff you would get from walmart only cheaper, some is waste of money. When trying to provide maximum quantity to people for free you can't always get the best or name brand.

What really kills me is tons of these people don't need these free items. Last year I seen some kids whining about they didn't like their free backpacks and moms saying stuff like well you have other backpacks for school, just put your toys in them. Why did you take from someone else who may need when you didn't you lowlife!! I totally agree with swinter05 and proud2beAmerican!! You would be amazed at how many of these people grab freebies, not because they need them but just because they are free. Your hair is dyed nice your nails are professional, all your clothes are new name brand yet you are in line for a free back back??? Can we say priorities?? Take care and provide for your own kids, if you can't...STOP having them!!

QuitBnoz
25
Points
QuitBnoz 08/05/12 - 03:49 am
1
0
NO GOOD DEED . . .

No good deed goes unpunished!! WTH!?! It is absolutely correct that $9000 would be quite useful for many things that the school children in Richmond County need. At the next PTA meeting at your child's school or at the school closest to your home, suggest a few and then volunteer your time to see that idea come to fruition. That might make the criticism go down a little bit better. It seems that the PTA was trying to help out the students in some small way. Backpacks may not be the best idea. Kids aren't even issued books in Richmond County schools anymore. They have a class set or the students assemble the books themselves over time by being given notes and worksheets. Either way, the idea seems to be to assist the students with starting school on the right foot. Mom may have her nails and hair done and Dad may be on his new cell phone, but if the kid hasn't had his hair cut all summer or he doesn't have the proper health forms to begin school, then what should a caring community of people do? I completely agree. There will be many people at the arena who have no business there. Some folks show up just because there's a line with people in it getting something for nothing. But what about that child, who has absolutely no control over his situation, and nothing that he could use for school? Does the PTA or the community say No to that one child because three kids might get something they don't need. That would be insane. And heartless. I have no use for lazy folks sitting on their asses waiting for a handout from the government. It is an abomination. The welfare system needs an overhaul (or obliteration, take your pick) and all parents should be required to complete extensive parenting classes before their child reaches three years old. But until then, civic minded folks at least try to do something, in some small way. Don't knock it. Get involved. Do what you know to do and whatever you can do to make the situation better. Just because some folks think the country (and our community) is going to hell in a hand-basket, doesn't mean for everybody to just jump on into the basket. Let's work together to come up with ways to make everyone's efforts really count for something. PTAS will be raising money for stuff all year long. Let them hear how you think those funds could best be used for your kids and the kids at these schools. While you're at it, join the PTA.

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