Tommy Thomason and his wife, Lisa, said their Tuesday started like any other then took a turn for the bizarre.
The Winter Haven couple was waiting outside the Meals on Wheels Thrift Store to do some shopping when they noticed an employee at the Goodwill located at 600 Sixth St. N.W. throwing out donations.
“They were still in good condition,” Tommy Thomason said. “I said to my wife, 'Maybe we can go over there and see if Meals on Wheels wants them. We will get them out of the dumpster, if they are in good shape and condition, like it looks like they are we can re-donate them.'”
When Thomason says he and his wife approached the employee they got a couple of different stories about why the items were thrown out.
“The story kind of changed to ‘Oh it's all damaged items’ and we are looking in there and nothing looks damaged to us,” Thomason said. “So, when I hopped in the dumpster someone from inside the store, I'm not sure who exactly, said they were going to call the police. That kind of struck a nerve with me so I just said ‘Call them and we'll wait for police to get here and we'll get it all figured out’”.
When Winter Haven police arrived Thomason said they told him he was breaking no laws collecting the items out of the dumpster. Thomason donated them to the Meals on Wheels Thrift Store next door.
Chris Ward, director of marketing and public relations at Goodwill Industries Suncoast, said the items should have never been thrown away and apologized for the mistake. Ward said over the phone the items should have gone to their outlet store, not the trash.
“All retail staff are reviewing procedures to make sure this doesn't happen again,” Ward said.
Ward stressed that donations are Goodwill’s “life blood” and that in 2014 they sold or re-purposed 85 percent of the 50 million donations they received across a 10 county area in Central Florida.
Thomason said he wishes the employees never called the cops.
“Someone just had a bad day,” Thomason said. “But if I dropped some stuff over there I thought could be useful for someone that could help somebody, I would be upset to know that something nice I had donated had been thrown in a dumpster; yes.”