U.S. Customs and Border Protection recently announced the donation of more than $1 million worth of abandoned and unclaimed merchandise to charities across the nation. Partnering with storage warehouses and local municipalities, several ports of entry were able to donate items to local charities over the last few weeks.

CBP officers in Tampa, Fla. help transfer donated merchandise to an organization set up to assist victims of domestic violence.
CBP officers in Tampa, Fla. help transfer donated merchandise to an organization set up to assist victims of domestic violence.
Some of the donations included clothes and bedding to an organization assisting women of domestic abuse in Tampa; men's and women's clothing to a Mission in Ft. Worth, Texas; and clothing and linens to the Salvation Army in Savannah, Ga. Donations made include more than $1.25 million worth of various articles, including apparel, toys, bedding and footwear.

"During these difficult economic times, charities are on the front lines of serving those in need and CBP is proud to support them by donating unclaimed items in our possession," said Acting Assistant Commissioner Kevin McAleenan. "We especially appreciate the support from our local partners as these donations would not have happened with out their assistance."

CBP relies on the strong partnerships it maintains with both the warehouses, who agreed to waive the storage fees on items that were donated, as well as the local governments and municipalities who worked with CBP to ensure federal rules and regulations were followed. While CBP, as a federal entity, is prohibited from donating General Order merchandise to specific individuals, the agency was able to transfer the merchandise to local municipalities who would make the determination as to the recipient of the goods.

When items arrive at a port of entry without proper contact information for the shipper or recipient, or lack certain other documentation needed to make legal entry into the United States, the goods enter the ranks of General Order merchandise. After six months with no claim, the merchandise then becomes abandoned/unclaimed and property of the U.S. government. These items are then eligible to be sold at monthly auctions, however sometimes CBP is able to donate this property to worthy causes.

While the donation of General Order merchandise is not something CBP is able to do on a regular basis, the agency does have a history of donating seized property. Ports of entry work with points of contact they maintain within their local municipalities to ensure that if a need arises, seized property that meets safety and trademark regulations, can be donated as necessary.