Donations piling up after DAV Thrift Stores close in Wichita
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The Disabled American Veteran (DAV) thrift stores in Wichita have closed their doors. In a Facebook post on August 31, the organization said the stores were “undergoing administrative restructuring” and would be closed temporarily. On Sept. 13, a post stated that the stores would not be reopening.
On Thursday, shoppers were shocked to find the notices posted on the doors. Despite the closures, people keep dropping off donations, and those who work and live near the stores said the junk is piling up.
“When I got here around 5:45 there was a lot of stuff out there,” said Shaq Harper, an employee at Delano’s Diner.
Harper and her coworkers have watched the donations pile grow in front of the DAV Thrift Store located on West Douglas.
“I think people do need to be aware they are not opening back up so to not just drop stuff there, because there is kind of a larger homeless population in this downtown and Delano area,” said Charlene Thompson, another Delano’s Diner employee.
As people go through the donations, items scatter around the grounds, making a mess. The store closing is a loss for the community.
“It’s a bummer. People losing jobs and a lot of people enjoyed going over there to shop,” said Thompson.
The DAV building is private property, and the City of Wichita said it’s the owner’s responsibility to remove those donations. City officials said they are keeping an eye on the piles and whether they get removed. The city will open a case with the Metropolitan Area Building and Construction Department.
The stores’ closures may come as a surprise to shoppers and some of its employees, but it’s an issue the organization has faced for some time.
Ed Hartman, Inspector General for DAV National, said DAV Wichita Chapter 4 has not filed a 990 tax form with the IRS for three years. In turn, the IRS revoked the organization’s tax-exempt status. DAV National was made aware in early August.
Hartman said the stores are fundraisers meant to provide free programming and services to veterans. He said the DAV Wichita was no longer able to provide those services and the funds raised were being used to stabilize the organization.
DAV Wichita Chapter 4 has lost $990,000 over the last two years and currently has minimal or negative bank balances, according to Hartman. The chapter faced similar issues in 2016-17.
Hartmans said the chapter will liquidate the stores and sell the locations it owns. The money will go back into the chapter’s account. After that, it will be evaluated to determine whether the chapter is viable.
Hartman said DAV Wichita operates separately from the national organization but receives funding from the national office to run local programs. He said it was likely that those funds were going to the failing stores. There were five locations in Wichita.
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