By TOM GRASER
OGDENSBURG — The Ogdensburg Salvation Army has had to curtail donations to its after-hours bins at its State Street thrift store.
Lt. Stacy McNeil said the bins were closed because of the recent bedbug infestation in parts of the city and because people were using the bins to dispose of household garbage, including used baby diapers.
“When that happens,” Ms. McNeil said, “all the donations in the bin have been tainted.”
Closing off access to the bins has not stopped people from leaving bags of clothing around the bins after the thrift shop is closed for the day.
Several bags of donations were ruined Sunday night after being left out in the rain, Ms. McNeil said.
Donations and the thrift shop are important to the mission of the Salvation Army.
“Money from the thrift shop goes to our Community Center,” Ms. McNeil said. “We rely so much on community donations.”
“Until the bedbug infestation is under control, donations can be brought to the store from 9:30 to 5 p.m.,” Ms. McNeil said.
Donors should knock on the door labeled “Donations Accepted Here,” to get help from a volunteer.
For now, donations from people living in either of the downtown towers or in Belmont Courts will not be accepted.
Other donations will be inspected by volunteers before they are brought into the store.
The executive director of the Ogdensburg Housing Authority, William Seymour, told City Council last week that all is being done that can be done to knock down the outbreak of bedbugs at Centennial Terrace and Riverview Towers in the city.
Mr. Seymour told council that he had hired an additional exterminator who had been recommended by the Syracuse Housing Authority.
That exterminator had inspected each apartment in Riverview Towers and Centennial Terrace and found that about 15 percent of the apartments needed treatment.
Ms. McNeil said the Salvation Army has not brought any clothing infested with bedbugs into the store.
“We are asking people to be patient,” she said. “We have to be sure we are protecting our customers.”
Ms. McNeil said she hopes to have the bins back open by the end of the month.
“So many people can’t get here until after hours,” she said.
Processing donations is a big job without worrying about bedbugs. There are as many as 200 bags of clothing dropped off in a week.
“Our community is so generous,” Ms. McNeil said. “And we rely so much on the thrift store.”