Bed Bug Infestation at Goodwill Warehouses

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A bed bug scare forced the closures of Goodwill stores in the Bay Area. Jean Elle reports. (Published Wednesday, Jul 31, 2013)

    There has been a plethora of unwanted donations at several Goodwill facilities in the Bay Area: Bed bugs.

    The scare prompted Goodwill Industries to shut down two Bay Area warehouses, one of which was being inspected for extermination on Wednesday morning.

    The infestation was confined to an isolated area of the 30,000-square-foot storage facility at 11th and Mission streets and a facility in Burlingame at 1215 California Drive, said Tim Murray, director of brand and marketing for Goodwill in San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties.

    In the meantime, Goodwill has disposed of loads of donated goods that were stored near the infested areas, and steam-cleaned hundreds of pounds of garments, textiles and fabrics that were kept in the same facilities, Murray said.

    "We're going way beyond what we have to for the health and safety of our team members and customers," Murray said. "This is a really unfortunate occurrence that has befallen us."

    The good news is that Goodwill representatives say bed bugs have not been found inside any of its 21 Bay Area retail stores.

    Still, the scare is costly for the non-profit organization.

    Goodwill says it's losing revenue and racking up costs. It has rented space to store donations it is accepting. For example, 15 boxes containing 40 cubic yards of donated goods -- enough to fill a tractor-trailer -- were removed from the Burlingame facility and thrown out.

    "We're taking no risks," Murray said, adding that the outbreak could cost Goodwill hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost inventory and other expenses.

    However, the outbreak has interrupted Goodwill's non-profit job training services and could force the organization to dispose of tons of donated goods, depending on how much of the Burlingame warehouse -- if any -- is found to be infested, he said.

    Donor Jeremy Sabol says he hopes the pests are eradicated soon so the Goodwill can get back to work.

    "In a city like San Francisco there's a lot of people out there on the edge of employability and San Francisco is trying to work on that this is pretty central," he said.

    Tony Ahmed went home with a truck full of furniture he was hoping to drop off.  Ahmed is also hoping for a quick cleanup.

    "They do a really good thing a lot of people can't afford new things," he said.

    The Goodwill says it hopes to reopen the warehouses by the end of the week. 

    Murray said that anyone considering donating goods should never do so if they suspect their property is infested. Anyone wishing to support Goodwill finically can donate online at sfgoodwill.org.

    NBC Bay Area's Bob Redell and Bay City News contributed to this report.