Goodwill stores empty shelves of kids' toys, clothes

Friday, February 13, 2009
Barb Messelhiser, assistant manager of Goodwill Industries in Le Mars, stand by the empty bins which are usually filled with children's toys, books and clothes. Those items were pulled from the shelf due to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act which is in place to help protect 12 year olds and younger from products with lead in them.

A youngster's trip to Goodwill to get a toy as a reward for good schoolwork ended in tears Wednesday night when he arrived at the store's toy bin.

It was completely empty.

But what he didn't know was that those toys, along with children's clothing, are being pulled from the shelves of Goodwill Industries for his own protection.

Sixteen Goodwill Industries stores in four states are taking children's toys and clothes off shelves to make sure those under the age of 12 are protected from any items with lead or lead products in them.

This decision was based on recent information from the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. The act comes from the government entity that sets recalls for consumer products that may be hazardous or cause injuries.

"Anything with sequins, hard buttons, zippers and snaps ... could potentially have lead in it," said Goodwill Industries spokesperson Paul Kellen.

But no items have been identified for sure. A lead testing kit would cost about $35,000 to $40,000 for each location.

For now, the Goodwill stores are waiting for the government to come out with more guidelines as to what can be sold and can't be sold.

In the meantime, all those toys and clothes pulled from the shelves are being kept and stored.

"We can't put anything with lead in it in the landfill, and we can't give it to a wholesaler," Kellen said.

At the Le Mars Goodwill, big boxes of clothes, books and toys are being stacked in the storage room.

"When we have more information, the stores can restock the shelves as we determine what is safe," Kellen said.

Employees in Le Mars have cleared many of the children's shelves.

"It's a huge undertaking -- man hours, the financial end...but the safety of the families and people that shop in our stores and our employees is always first priority," Kellen said.

In the meantime, Goodwill Industries stores are still taking donations.

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