Originally created 12/30/98

Cars to be auctioned for charity



As the year winds down, local charitable organizations are heavily collecting cash, clothes and cars.

More cars than anything, some officials say.

"People typically think in terms of taxes at the end of the year," said Butch Giusto, director of development at the Salvation Army on Greene Street.

"This is the busiest time for us," he said. "No one can take a vacation from mid-November until after Christmas. It's insane for about six weeks during this time of year."

Employees of the Salvation Army and Goodwill Industries expect to tally annual donations by early January, but both organizations expect donations to increase this year.

Mr. Giusto said his organization raised about $104,000 last year during the kettle drive -- where employees stand outside of local stores and collect money -- but this year most of the donations have been of the four-wheeled variety.

"We have 20 vehicles that we haven't picked up yet," he said. "The tax advantage is pretty apparent. People can come out better donating them than if they traded them in for a new car. We give them a receipt and they give us the title."

The Salvation Army sells some of the cars during an automobile auction and is working on a program with the CSRA Regional Development Center to make cars available to people on welfare as transportation to work.

Donors say taxes and excess are some of the reasons they give at the end of the year.

Ervin Spruill took some outgrown clothes and toys to the Salvation Army on Tuesday afternoon.

He regretted not getting the toys in before Christmas, but said he hopes they still will be useful. The clothes are part of an annual year-end donation.

"I deduct a small amount for tax purposes," Mr. Spruill said, "but I give because the items are still in good shape and rather than have a yard sale, I bring them here."

Mr. Spruill said he dropped off about $600 worth of items, including some toy trucks and pull-toys, bed sheets and shirts.

Carolyn Simon also donated a black garbage bag full of clothes to the Salvation Army.

"This is just the thing to do," Mrs. Simon said. "My children outgrew the clothes, and they still had some good use to them. I give whenever I spring clean -- which is about three times a year."

Of the $2.3 million collected at the Salvation Army last year, about $419,000 came from cash donations from the Augusta area. The rest came from grants and the United Way, Mr. Giusto said.

"We couldn't survive without donations," he said, "and all of our goods stay right here in the community. It's nice to know the community is helping its own."

Jeff Blake, community relations manager for Goodwill Industries, said the community also has been good to his organization.

Clothes, books and housewares are some of the items people are giving in exchange for year-end receipts, he said.

"I think the public is always generous during the holidays," Mr. Blake said. "The benefits to giving at the end of the year are a win-win situation."

Faith Johnson can be reached at (706) 823-3765 or faithj@augustachronicle.