Army thrift stores play it safe
Army strives to be “vigilant in the protection of children.”
by Christin Davis –
Salvation Army thrift stores are taking caution in examining toys recently placed on national recall lists, before placing them on shelves. Following recent news reports that tainted pet food, harmful toys and other poor quality goods have made their way into homes, thrift stores throughout the territory are working to ensure unsafe products are not on their shelves.
The recalls have included products such as tires, seafood, pet food, medicines, toothpaste, vitamins, and most recently millions of Mattel-brand toys that news report state contain traces of lead-based paint, which the federal government banned in 1978 because of its link to neurological, brain and organ damage, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“We are always asking our personnel to be vigilant in the protection of our children,” said Anne Calvo, territorial director for child safety. “We ask our officers, employees, and volunteers to check the toys we have in our stores as well as our preschools and children’s programs. We need to be informed of new alerts and be mindful and diligent of our kids’ safety to help minimize their exposure to lead.”
Mattel—the world’s largest toy maker—has voluntarily recalled what amounts to millions of toys and identified Chinese Lee Der Industrial Co. as the sole source of the lead paint problem in at least one million of its recalled toys. Mattel also reportedly invited its competitors to dissolve business dealings with the Chinese supplier, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Mattel reported the recall of roughly 20 million toys will reduce their second quarter pretax operating income by at least $30 million, or about 47 percent.
According to the Los Angeles Times, China’s toy industry—with 10,000 factories—accounts for over 75 percent of worldwide toy manufacturing and roughly 80 percent of the toys on U.S. shelves.
Thrift store impact
For The Salvation Army, the recalls mean donated items must be checked for safety before they are placed on store shelves, especially as many parents will be trying to rid their children’s closets of recalled toys.
Major Man Hee Chang, Western Territory Adult Rehabilitation Centers Command (ARCC) director, said the ARCC sent notification to stores upon hearing of the toy recalls. “We have made all our retail stores and warehouses aware and given pictures to centers,” he said. “Any items they may have received will be pulled and discarded.”
“We will only accept items that don’t pose a hazard,” said Shawn McDaniel, director of retail in Anchorage, Alaska. Thrift stores in Anchorage have eliminated toy sections and are only accepting baby items or large plastic toy items, including strollers, high chairs and playhouses.
Major Glenda Berko of Medford, Ore., said their stores will be discarding all small toy items to ensure they are not selling recalled items. “The smaller toys usually sell well,” Berko said. “Discarding the hundreds of toys that we have could definitely hurt the store’s income.”
In Fresno, Calif., all toys have been returned to the warehouse to be re-sorted and checked against the list of recalled items.
National Headquarters Public Relations Director Melissa Temme, said, “As people go through their children’s toys and start pulling out unsafe things that are on the recall list, we do just ask the philanthropy-minded not to donate them.”
Preventing future unsafe products
Nationally, President Bush has created a task force to find ways to detect and prevent the import of harmful products at U.S. borders.
Mattel said it will now require testing of every batch of paint at every vendor plant, according to the Los Angeles Times, and announced it would increase random inspections to ensure toy safety. Mattel Chief Executive Robert Eckert appeared before a Senate subcommittee on September 12, assuring of stricter policies to increase product safety.
For a complete list with photos of Mattel’s recalled toys see www.service.mattel.com.