Illegal dumping and theft harms Chippewa Falls Senior Center fundraiser

Published: May. 23, 2023 at 7:04 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - The Chippewa Falls Senior Center is losing vital money from its annual scrap metal drive due to illegal trash dumping and theft.

According to Center Director Angie Walker, the fundraiser is essential to maintaining the operations of the Center, and was heartbroken to see the state of the donation site on Monday.

“I literally bawled,” Walker said. “I probably could have watered everyone’s garden for as many tears that I shed immediately, and then throughout the day, I was numb.”

Due to the illegal dumping and theft, Walker says that some of the funds will now need to be used to buy security cameras. Chippewa Falls Police Chief Matt Kelm also says they will increase police activity around the donation site.

“They’re dumping what’s essentially garbage at the recycling drive, which is meant to provide funds to the senior center, for our seniors, and I just wasn’t going to stand for it,” Kelm stated.

Walker says these donations are critical to maintaining the structure of the Center.

“Of course, it’s an old building, and there are a lot of issues with the old building,” Walker said. “You know, windows and different entities that filter into the high costs.”

Walker and the police department are urging people to dispose of their junk in proper locations instead, such as First Choice Computer Recycling, who, despite their name, will take several different items for no cost.

“The biggest thing is, instead of taking it to a place like that and illegally dumping it, bring it to a service like ours that responsibly recycles everything,” said First Choice Computer Recycling account executive Sam Glaser.

First Choice CEO Ralph Hutchens stated that even their site has experienced illegal despite constant employee presence, but Chief Kelm is hopeful it won’t happen again.

“I think that not just the increased police presence, but the increased awareness by the community, because Grand Avenue is a heavily traveled street, so we have a lot of eyes looking here,” said Kelm.

One positive thing to come of it, is the help from the Chippewa Falls community, who have stepped up with donations.

“There are truly no words that can be said that could express how I, you know, along with all these people in the senior center, feel towards this unbelievable support of our community,” said Walker. “The negative turned into the greatest positive we could have ever received.”

The Chippewa Falls Police Department is asking anyone who witnesses suspicious behavior around the drop-off area to call the non-emergency number or the Crime Stopper’s tip line.

Non-emergency line: 715-723-4424

Crime Stopper’s tip line: 715-944-3949