USAgain Donation Drop Boxes in da ‘Hood…Can We Trust It?

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Here’s a sad commentary.  I have noticed that there have been clothing donation bins appearing all over Oakland, overnight it seems.  What’s sad is that they are appearing in all the ‘hood areas.  The poorer areas in Oakland, and other cities, I’ve learned, and I’m suspicious about it.   That is sad.  Because it seems that this should be a good thing.  For one thing, that the bins are strategically placed near businesses in our communities, which supposedly increases foot traffic near the business that “hosts” one of the bins.  That it’s green for another thing.  How many green companies do you see in the ‘hood?  That it’s convenient for another thing.  Now I can walk three blocks and be right at this bin.  

bins brooklyn ny

But I have a suspicious mind when it comes to this kind of thing.  For one thing, who ARE these invisible people, and what are they doing with my old clothes?   So I decide I’m gonna find out who these folks are before I donate any more goodies to them.  (I did drop off a couple of bags)  After nearly two months of forgetting to do that research, I finally got to it.  I went online using “USAgain”  and found their website.  But their website looked a bit too cheesy for me.  Too unprofessional looking.  I didn’t truss it.  So I dug a little deeper to find out about these people, and hit the jackpot with this link:  (Allegedly)

http://www.tvindalert.com/companies/usagain/

So I found the above link to the above group of “investigative journalists” that have been following this company owned  by Chicago based Mattias Wallender, who is danish.  There’s all kinds of international intrigue here!  It appears that Mr. Wallender is part of a danish organization calling itself the Teachers Group, Tvind and it has been said that these people are not into works of charity.  Instead, they collect the millions of pounds of clothing from this country and African and South American countries as well, and sell it all for profit, which they admit.  But the lion’ share of the money goes back to them, not to charity, and it’s alleged that they live extremely lavish and high lifestyles.  And they seem to be untouchable.

List of Teachers Group clothing bins

humana bins berlin germany

According to this website, they have a long list of other “companies” that they start and fold at will, staying steps ahead of the authorities!   And used clothing is not the only business that they are in–they also have “colleges” here in the US and in other countries, that supposedly train missionary minded people how to help the people of Africa, India, and South America.  Unfortunately the whole thing is a front to collect tuitions from good hearted young people.  They started off in Europe–Germany, Denmark, and England and were shut down after being investigated.  But they slithered over here to America and it seems to be too difficult to put the finger on them.  So now they are in my community and others here in the San Francisco Bay Area, taking free clothing, reselling it to the tune of millions, all under a tax exempt status! 

Tvind Teachers Group list of businesses

The following is an excerpt from the investigative website, Tvindalert concerning one of their “colleges”:

According to informants, CCTG college in Etna, Ca suddenly closed in December 2009 due to a severe flood.    Would-be ‘development instructor’ students have since then been directed to other Teachers Group ’schools’ in the USA – IICD Michigan and IICD Massachusetts.   In spring 2010, the building was put up for sale at $229,000 and it has now been sold.

In fact, there is evidence to suggest that the closure and sale of CCTG was planned.   In October of 2009, CCTG submitted forms to the IRS informing it of a change of address from Etna to Richmond, California.  Two months later came the ‘flood’ which forced the college to close.  We can speculate that CCTG and the Teachers Group may have made a financial gain from the closure.   The event certainly fits in with a pattern of other Teachers Group businesses abruptly closing or filing for bankruptcy (see for example the story of EC Trading).

Story link: MyFoxDC.com

green world bin

30 Comments Add yours

  1. Charmanie says:

    I will not be donating anything in those bins, it looks suspect to me. Plus it looks easy for people to steal it…no thank you on that one.

  2. Carolyn Moon says:

    Thanks for this Anna. It’s amazing the number of scams on the backs of the poor that we know about. Just imagine how many we DON’T know about. You took some time to research it and expose it,unfortunately, many of us won’t do that. The clanging of this bell may force us in the future to scrutinize these charity ventures and share the results.

  3. James McCoy says:

    I said the other day I’m not feeling good about donating any money to the relief effort in Japan,and I still feel that way.
    I just don’t get any good feeling from Japanese people about our struggles in this country.

    1. Anna Renee says:

      Hi Big Mac! It’s all people’s inhumanity to people. I don’t know what the Japanese have done one way or the other concerning our struggle as black folks. I’ve read somewhere that there’s racism in Japan. But I’ve dealt with Japanese people who were kind and friendly. I would say that our struggles as a race in this country probably does nothing for the Japanese nation, so i can understand your reluctance, James.
      My issue, though, is trusting the Red Cross or phone texting any donations. I heard a story on the news just last night that phone companies are holding up texted donation money—one has to have paid their phone bill before the money is released so they say.
      Can you imagine all the millions that are being texted over and the phone companies holding up all that money? Earning interest on it probably, at the expense of the Japanese who are struggling.
      Greed always shows its ugly head.

  4. Anna Renee says:

    @Charmanie, it’s a trip how they appeared overnight one day like that. They got me once but that’s all they gonna get.

    @Carolyn, It is overwhelming just how many scams have to be happening just by the number that we know of. Probably 100times more than what we know of. Sad is all I can say right now.

  5. N3 says:

    @Anna please press release this. We will pay the money for you to do it. How uncaring and in tune with your savage european ancestors/colonialist can you be to rob from the unwealthy and then sell their same clothes for a profit to other unwealthy people. An unwealthy wise person is a blessing because people assume that if you do not have wealth that you are ignorant. which is why police and everyone else for that matter prey on the unwealthy<— has a better ring to it and more aspiring ring than saying poor. (Perception we guess)

    1. Anna Renee says:

      I’m going to look into that N3. We have a lot of community papers in our Bay Area, that serves liberal white folks, latino, asian, and black folks as well. The entire community has its own community papers. Plus the larger papers as well. I’m going to look into it ASAP. Thanks for the tip.

      1. N3 says:

        You are more than welcome. And money is something we can not take with us when we go. But we are all guaranteed that thing which is death. So if you want money for the press release just email us.

  6. Carolyn Moon says:

    @N3…An interesting point that you’ve made about poor vs unwealthy.
    Perception is the steering wheel for our behaviors and thoughts about others or events. Thanks for bringing that to our attention.

    1. Anna Renee says:

      Lord have mercy! I didn’t even see all that wisdom right in front of me!!! Too busy looking at the part about press release! Which is wise too!
      Carolyn I agree with you, N3 hit the nail on the head! Unwealthy and wise is a blessing! We see many, many rich fools (Charlie Sheen anybody?) Don’t have sense that God gave him, just wasting his money and proclaiming to be “winning”! His situation is no better than if he had lost his mind and was living homeless and with no help. His money just prolongs the pain.

    2. N3 says:

      You are more than welcome Nubian Queen! Perception mixed with pride and culture equates to power but when perception is used against you and permeates your mind it can be a valuable ally or a destructible force. Regardless if we all could just love ourselves and be mindful of our past (from us being the only inhabitants on this earth till now) and living in the present WHILE planning for the future. We would not trust those boxes as many have already stated. MOST people only involve themselves with the unwealthy when they need tax breaks, have guilt about profiting on the backs of others, are monsters, and/or want to experiment a new drug or test out something that wealthy people would say “Get out of my face” too. Unwealthy = Desperate, which equates to opportunity for the wealthy. It is much easier to be happier with what you have and then all of the stress stops. We thank all of you for the inspiration to share all of this.

  7. Carolyn Moon says:

    Anna…Let the church say AMEN to that! 🙂

  8. PBS aired a documentary about this: http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/tshirttravels/film.html. It is as you think.

    1. Anna Renee says:

      Thanks for this link Mildred!!

  9. Tha L says:

    OK sis, I may be the only one with this opinion, but here it goes: If you’re getting rid of your unwanted clothing, maybe for a minimal tax write-off or maybe not, why does it matter what happens to it? Would you care what happened to such unwanted things if you had instead thrown them in the garbage can? I understand that these folks are getting over on well-intentioned people, but I guess I’ve gotta say don’t knock the hustle. I’m far more upset about these same folks taking people’s hard-earned money by throwing together a fictitious school…THAT’S pretty lame.

    1. Anna Renee says:

      Hey Sister L! Well, it’s because I don’t like being bamboozled!! Because my intentions for my unwanted clothes is to give them away to poor folks who need them! For that reason I held on to my clothes for many months, looking for the right place where they will benefit some real people.
      Then these folks come along and offer convenience and make it seem that they care about our carbon footprints, and green issues, and poor people. Under that guise they collect my old clothes and then what?
      IF THEY WOULD COME STRAIGHT OUT AND SAY,
      ” Hey we are Danes collecting your old clothes that you no longer want, and we mark these clothes up 300 to 400% and send them to Africa, exploiting the economic situation of these people. We then take all of the money we make and buy land all over the ‘Third World” and create “schools” where we exploit naive young European and American white youth who naively want to help people of color, not really knowing what they’re getting into. We take their money and teach them nothing, thereby crashing their youthful hopes and idealism.
      But as for us, those of us of the higher echelons, we live extreme high lifestyles–huge mansions in Florida and Mexico, and who knows where else, we’re not telling you, but we do it all because we are under the sway of a cultict, Jim Jones type personality!

      Sister, if they came straight out and said that, then I could decide if I don’t care and give my clothes to them anyway, or if I can save my clothes and hand them out to the homeless my self or stockpile my old clothes and wait until my church sends another of the yearly shipping bins of donations to Africa.

  10. Carolyn Moon says:

    Sister Anna, well stated with love and a clarity needed when we face these moral dilemmas!

  11. saskehavis says:

    Hi Anna Renee,

    Thanks for posting this — very informative!

    I’ve been researching the Tvind Teachers Group (TG) for over two years. Following is a brief rundown on alleged TG-run organizations active in your area, and elsewhere in California.

    There are currently two such groups in the SF Bay Area:

    1) Campus California (or CCTG), which boasts of having 900 of its clothes donation bins in the SF Bay Area, the only region it’s thought to be active.

    2) USAgain (“use again”), with the bright green & white bins shown in your top picture, is new to the area, claims to have about 50 bins around SF, with new bins placed weekly. USAgain has about 8,000 bins placed nationwide.

    Elsewhere in the state:

    3) GAIA-Movement Living Earth Green World Action, a third alleged TG-run clothes collector, says it has 200 bins in Sacramento and 100 bins in Fresno. A few more may be elsewhere in the Central Valley. GAIA has about 550 bins in the city and suburbs of Chicago, and about 40 in Ft. Wayne, IN.

    4) Planet Aid (shown in the next image down), is the largest alleged TG-run clothes group in the U.S., with some 11,000 bins nationwide. Planet Aid is now active in the Los Angeles area (as is USAgain).

    I hope this isn’t too much info, but anyway, here is a news report for each one of the groups mentioned:

    Report about CCTG:

    http://www.rickross.com/reference/tvind/tvind7.html

    Report on USAgain from KIRO-7 Eyewitness News in Seattle (shows older, red & white USAgain bins):

    http://www.kirotv.com/video/21640407/index.html

    Report about GAIA Movement Living Earth Green World Action (also mentions USAgain & Planet Aid):

    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2004-02-12/features/0402120028_1_gaia-bins-clothes

    WTTG FOX-5 News report about Planet Aid:

    http://www.myfoxdc.com/dpp/news/investigative/051209_fox_5_investigation_planet_aid

    This 2010 San Diego Reader feature article provides an excellent overview of TG:

    http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2010/feb/03/cover-mysterious-danish-exotic-compound-baja/#

    Want to see where the money *really* goes? Check out this album of the luxurious headquarters the Tvind Teachers Group built for itself:

    http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/tvindalert.feedback/tgpacificomexico#

    More people need to know about what TG is doing in the U.S. One estimate is that, every year, alleged TG-run groups together suck about $50 million out of the U.S. That’s $50 million allegedly going into the pockets of the TG directorate and not going to well-respected charities.

    I encourage you to further study this subject and educate others about what to beware of. As you know, http://www.tvindalert.com is a tremendous source of information.

    Thanks again. Keep up your good work!

    1. Anna Renee says:

      Thanks Saskehavis! And thank you for the additional links of information about these people. It’s very strange–this organization and the hold they have over people. And that guy Mattias Wallender has the most vacant eyes that refuse to connect directly with anyone’s eyes!

      He’s like a robot, a soulless person.

      1. saskehaviss says:

        You’re welcome, Anna Renee!

        Say, I was trying to post one further comment a few days ago, but this page wouldn’t let me. Is there something I’m doing correctly?

        1. Anna Renee says:

          Maybe its replys within replyts. Start new comment rather than a reply. 🙂

  12. Anna Renee says:

    FROM Saskehavis:

    Hi again Anna Renee,

    If you’ll allow me to indulge in just one more lengthy comment, I’d like to fill you and
    your readers in on a few additional details.

    First, a quick clarification: USAgain CEO Mattias Wallander is Swedish — not Danish.
    However, you are correct in that most Tvind /Teachers Group (TG) members are from
    Denmark.

    Speaking of, if you want to see more of Mr. Wallander in action, here is the extended
    Nov. 2009 KIRO-7 interview with him: http://www.kirotv.com/video/21633589/
    index.html

    Another clarification: the bin shown at the top of your article here is USAgain’s NEW
    design, which clearly states that USAgain is a for-profit company, as in fact it has always
    been.

    However, as you saw in KIRO-7’s 1st report ( http://www.kirotv.com/video/21640407/
    index.html ), USAgain’s older, (usually) red & white bin design tended to give people the
    impression that USAgain was a charity.

    In my opinion, that was USAgain’s intention from the start.

    In KIRO-7’s follow-up report which aired a week later, The Washington State Office of
    the Attorney General (AGO), having investigated USAgain, told KIRO-7 that USAgain
    was not properly licensed to collect used clothes in Washington State.

    The behind-the-scenes story: the AGO required USAgain to make a choice: either
    register with the Washington State Secretary of State as a “commercial fundraiser,”
    or change the wording on its bins and website in order to clearly convey the fact that
    USAgain is a for-profit company and not a charity.

    USAgain initially tried to fight the requirements, but gave in, opting to change the
    wording on its bins and website — hence the new green & white design. The old, red &
    white USAgain bins, at least in WA state, now have the questionable text (“We cooperate
    with schools and non-profits …”) covered up by a big sticker.

    Put simply: the State of Washington *required* USAgain to make these changes so that
    people wouldn’t mistakenly think USAgain was a charity.

    KIRO-7’s follow-up report is no longer posted to its website, but a text version — written
    by the story’s reporter himself — can be viewed here:

    http://icsahome.com/infoserv_respond/by_topics.asp?ID=49471

    Campus California bins— about 900 of them — are all in the SF Bay Area, I believe. To

    see what their bins look like, you can see pictures on its own web-site [but don’t believe a
    word they say! :-)]: http://www.campus-california.org/

    On its new website ( http://www.usagain.com/ ), USAgain brags about
    having “partnered” with many school districts across the country, and having placed
    its clothes collection bins on school properties. USAgain even holds clothes collection
    contests, pitting schools against each other to see which can collect the most clothing!
    These schools are paid just a fraction per pound compared to what USAgain later sells
    the clothes for. The top school may win a nominal cash prize, but USAgain is the real
    winner in such contests, profiting handsomely through the valiant efforts of thousands of
    school children!

    As you already know, most of the clothes collected by these well-meaning kids are then
    shipped overseas, where they are sold for-profit, sometimes to poor Africans.

    It makes my blood boil to think about it; that’s why I post alerts about these and other
    groups said to be run by TG, whose top leaders are currently international fugitives
    wanted in connection with a $22 million dollar tax fraud and embezzlement scheme.

    If anyone is keen to delve deeper into this subject, I recommend reading the actual
    Danish court case summary against TG, (translated into English) from the Public
    Prosecutor for Serious Economic Crime in Denmark. In the document (near the bottom of
    page 4), Danish prosecutors allege that USAgain helps to finance TG. Elsewhere in the
    document (on page 31), Planet Aid and GAIA are also claimed to be controlled by TG:

    http://www.tvindalert.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/Exhibit_C.pdf

    And Anna Renee, I’d be very interested to learn which style of USAgain bins are showing
    up in the SF Bay Area. Are they the green & white ones, or are they red & white? Both?
    If you see the red & white ones, do they have a big sticker covering up text in the lower
    right corner of the bin’s front panel?

    Any information you can provide would be most appreciated.

    Thanks again for the good work you’re doing!

    1. Anna Renee says:

      The green and white ones are in our neighborhoods. Thanks so much for all of the research you’ve done on this.

      1. saskehavis says:

        You’re most welcome! Thanks for the status report on USAgain bins. I’ll be quiet now! 🙂

  13. saskehavis says:

    Hi again Anna Renee,

    The Chicago Tribune recently published this article about USAgain, Planet Aid, GAIA and other Tvind-related groups in the U.S.:

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-met-tvind-gaia-update-20110514,0,2640974.story

  14. saskehavis says:

    Hi Anna Renee!

    The SF Weekly just published this interesting article about Campus California, now with more than 1,000 clothes donation bins in the Bay Area. Campus California is the Tvind-related group with by far the largest presence in your area. Spread the word, my friend! 🙂

    http://www.sfweekly.com/2011-06-08/news/mogens-andi-peterson-campus-california-donated-clothes-cult-matt-smith/#disqus_thread

  15. Saskehavis says:

    Hi Anna Renee,

    How are you? I hope that you’ve had a wonderful 4th of July holiday.

    Just a quick clarification for your readers: The last picture in your article, the one captioned “green world bin,” is from a Tvind-run for-profit company that is operating *only* in England. It’s full name is Green World Recycling. In addition, the bins marked “Humana,” in the next picture up, are located *only* in western European countries such as Germany and Italy, and have no connection whatsoever to the American health insurer also called Humana.

    In more recent developments, I wanted to let you know about yet another questionable donation bin set-up — this one NOT related to Tvind.

    The bins are blue and labeled “Books for Charity” or “Donate Books.” The charity is called Reading Tree. Perhaps you’ve seen them in your area.

    According to news reports, Reading Tree has an unusually close relationship with a for-profit company called Thrift Recycling Management (TRM), which actually owns and manages the thousands of Reading Tree bins placed in retailers’ parking lots nationwide.

    TRM boasts of being one of the largest used book distributors on the Internet, with a reported $27 million in revenue and 4 million books sold in 2010.

    And hey, guess where TRM gets most of its books — for free?

    Well, I’ll let the following news reports do the explaining (you’ll be shocked).

    From The Oregonian; May 8, 2011:

    http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2011/05/book_bins_for_charity_open_up_a_story_of_blurry_relationships_between.html

    follow-up from The Oregonian; May 12, 2011:

    http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2011/05/books_for_charity_bin_in_hillsdale_comes_down_after_oregonian_story.html

    From The Oakland Tribune; June 19, 2011

    http://www.insidebayarea.com/crime-courts/ci_18302744

    From Berkeleyside; June 30, 2011

    http://www.berkeleyside.com/2011/06/30/charity-book-bins-run-by-for-profit-company/

    The best thing we can do about this is simply to spread the word. Help protect legitimate local charities.

    1. Anna Renee says:

      Wow! They never stop. But people are catching on to them much more, and exposing them, which is perfect. The people need to be aware of these leeches.

  16. Saskehavis says:

    Anna Renee, I finally found the follow-up report about USAgain aired by KIRO-7 Eyewitness News in Seattle in November of 2009. KIRO-7 removed this 2nd TV report from its website over a year ago:

    KIRO-7’s first report on USAgain, however, is still posted to its website. If anyone here hasn’t seen that one, here it is:

    http://www.kirotv.com/video/21640407/index.html

  17. Ken Katz says:

    Anna Renee, Many thanks for helping to publicize the background story behind the various donation bins. The problem has since become far more acute–particularly since Campus California has gone from about 15 bins in Oakland to approximately 75.

    On March 27, the Oakland City Council’s Community and Economic Development Committee will be considering a resolution introduced by council member Kernighan and Brunner intended to regulate and hopefully stop the proliferation of the donation bins.
    In doing so, they’d be following the lead already adopted by many other localities including Berkeley and San Rafael.

    Input from Oakland residents will be essential to this measure being approved. Emails or phone calls should be directed to council members Brunner, Kernighan, De La Fuente and Nadel. Speaking in person at the committee meeting would be even more helpful.

    The CED Committee meets at 2:00 pm at City Hall in the Mark Dunakin Hearing Room (Hearing Room 1). The agenda and report on this item will be available 10 days in advance of the meeting at http://oakland.legistar.com/calendar.aspx. If you would like to speak on this item, you can fill out a speaker’s card in advance online or in person before the item is called for discussion.

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