‘I can’t sleep’: Elderly man slapped with $322 fine over Salvation Army donation

The 78-year-old left a donation of books outside his local Salvation Army store before the business opened for the day. Source: Getty

An elderly man has revealed he’s been left battling sleepless nights since receiving a hefty fine for simply wanting to help others by donating a box of books to his local Salvation Army store.

Dan Alessio, 78, went out of his way to donate the goods back in March, leaving the items outside the store in Melbourne before heading off to open his hairdressing salon, the Herald Sun reports.

The hairdresser told the news outlet he dropped them off at about 7.15am on March 6 in front of the business in the suburb of Fairfield, which was closed at the time. However, around a month later Alessio was handed a $322.38 fine by the local council for littering.

The City of Darebin reportedly tracked Alessio down using CCTV from near the store in Fairfield to obtain his car registration.

They claimed the fines are handed out to prevent people from dumping goods on the street and potentially creating a safety risk and ruining the look of the area. Alessio wrote to the council to appeal the fine but this was later denied.

Speaking to the Herald Sun about the stressful ordeal, the 78-year-old said he has been riddled with anxiety since receiving the fine with the money taking a huge chunk out of his weekly pay.

Alessio said he had no idea of the law and would never have left the items there if he knew he would be penalised.

“My only mistake was not to bring it in when the shop was open,” he told the news outlet.

“I wake up at 2am — can’t sleep — I’ve got to work all bloody week to get this money. They [the council] only care about the money. It’s a lesson for everybody.”

Meanwhile, the council has defended its decision, with Darebin Mayor Susan Rennie explaining in a statement the reasoning behind the fine.

“Charity shops have ample warning signs and explanations of alternative solutions for the public, and clearly advise that a fine will be issued if dumped items are left there,” she said, according to the Herald Sun.

Salvation Army spokeswoman Aife O’Loughlin echoed her comments, claiming goods left outside the store are often damaged before the business opens.

She told the news outlet that they understand people are just trying to help but unfortunately many donations have to be thrown out.

Starts at 60 has contacted Darebin Council for comment.

Were you aware you could be fined for leaving donations outside stores when they are closed? Have you ever received a fine for this? Do you think it is fair for the council to hand out the fine?

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