by: Kerry Kavanaugh Updated:
GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga - There are new developments in a Channel 2 Action News investigation into a charity that collects clothing donations, Nspire Outreach.
Workers who pick up those donations say they saw bags of clothes go from their trucks to sale racks and sold for profit, instead of going to those in need.
"They selling the stuff and they're not giving back to the people like they say they do," said a clothing pickup driver.
He works for Clothing Pickup ATL, a service that claims to collect donations for Gwinnett-based charity, Nspire Outreach.
The driver wouldn't show his face on camera for fear of losing his job.
But other former employees contacted Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh and had no problem speaking out.
"It goes from a truck to a store,” says Chantel Woodard.
Chantel Woodard and her husband Robert Woodard said, for two years, they saw donations sold for profit in Park Avenue Thrift stores across Metro Atlanta. They say they worked for the call center, soliciting for clothing donations. Robert said he also spent time as a driver.
"Anything that's usable goes out on the floor. The stuff that isn't, goes in the dumpster,” Robert Woodard said.
Nspire founder, Gregg Kennard, admits some of the donations are sold. But he claims a portion of the sales helps fund his transitional housing and job program for the homeless and battered woman.
"It creates an income stream by which we subsidize the cost of the program. Right now we get $312,000 for the year,” Kennard said. "The power of being able to provide employment and a job for someone often times is more powerful than giving someone a shirt."
A Channel 2 Action News investigation found Nspire program participants are forced to work for the charity's clothing drive.
Participants also pay $4,800 dollars to get started.
Kennard claims that Nspire is separate from the clothing pick up and thrift stores. But past and current employees workers say it's all interconnected.
Channel 2 only received an email response from Park Avenue Thrift:
“Many local and national thrift stores (including Value Village, Last Chance, and America's Thrift) purchase excess merchandise from ministries and charities such as American Kidney Foundation, American Family Foundation, and CLEAR Coalition. This is a concept that has been around for decades. The charities are paid for the product and use the money earned to finance their programs. A lot of good is done by all the charities that contract with for-profit companies. We are hoping that this 'sheds light' on how the industry as a whole works. Our drivers are paid in accordance Federal and State laws,” wrote Jamie Hagey.
Hagey did not say what role she held with the company. She is listed as the registered agent on the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.
"I want them to be exposed. I want the truth to come out," Robert Woodard said.
While Hagey says it pays its workers in accordance with state and federal labor laws, the workers say they don't receive an hourly wage and are only paid a flat rate based on what they bring back each day.