City declares 60-day grace period for charity box enforcement

Collection box owners will be given a 60-day grace period to bring the boxes under new city licensing standards. | Bob Seidenberg~Sun-Times Media
Collection box owners will be given a 60-day grace period to bring the boxes under new city licensing standards. | Bob Seidenberg~Sun-Times Media

Although the deadline has passed, the owners of collection boxes across the city will be given a 60-day grace period in which to obtain licenses.

The Evanston City Council approved the ordinance in May, requiring owners of collection boxes to obtain licensing, effective July 1.

To promote compliance, officials granted a 60-day licensing grace period Aug. 1 through Oct. 1. Anyone who does not have a license after that period will be subject to a $200 fine.

A collection box is identified as an unattended container or receptacle used for soliciting and collecting donations of clothing or other salvageable personal property. Typically, the boxes solicit books, clothes or other items in the name of charities or special causes.

Alderman Ann Rainey initially urged the ordinance in response to the boxes sprouting up along parking lots, shopping centers and business districts in her south Evanston ward, sometimes without the property owner’s knowledge, she said.

Under the proposal, boxes are to be maintained in good condition and appearance with no structural damage, holes or visible rust, and shall be free of graffiti.

In addition, all boxes are to be serviced regularly to prevent overflow of collections or the accumulation of junk, debris or other material. Upon servicing, any and all material must be removed.

The ordinance specifies that only one collection box is permitted on the property of a building owned and operated by not-for-profit organizations, retail centers, schools and churches.

Not-for-profit organizations located in Evanston operating a collection box are exempt from paying a license fee.

The annual $150 application fee will be invoiced to applicants upon approval of the license and $75 will be charged for each additional collection box on site, officials said.

All licenses are to expire Dec. 31, regardless of when it was purchased.

For more information about the issue, box owners can contact Health Department Licensing Coordinator Ellyn Golden at 847-866-2947 or 311 (847-448-4311 outside of Evanston).

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