Published: Dec 24, 2011 12:52 AM EST
Updated: Dec 26, 2011 11:17 PM EST

LEE COUNTY, Fla.-If you're clearing your closet to make way for new holiday surprises, you may want to take a second look at where you're donating your gifts from Christmas past.

During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, you may have noticed charity bins popping up on your shopping route. You’ll see them in the parking lots of strip malls across Southwest Florida. We found them in parking lots from Naples to Fort Myers.

If you're too busy to read what they say, you may not realize the donations in these bins don't go to charity at all.

These bins plainly state they are recycling items for profit. The money does NOT go to charity.

“Just because you see a box with 'donations' on it, don't assume that it is going to a non-profit,” said Kirsten O’Donnell with Goodwill Charities. She says while many people might think to check how their cash donation is being spent, they often forget to check on where their donation of old clothes and household items are going.

“It's a little frustrating to us because we know when people donate, they are donating not just to get the tax write-off but that they also want to feel like they are doing something good for their community, “ said O’Donnell, “So, it's a little frustrating for us to know that there are some folks out there who try to deceive donors. That their donations are going to non-profits when they actually are not.”

All of the items taken in at Goodwill go to support programs to help the disabled and needy in our community.

“There are a lot of websites out there like ‘Guidestar’ and ‘Charity Navigator’ that tell you all about a nonprofit, tell you their mission, show you their tax forms and really let you be a knowledgeable consumer so you know what you are donating to.”

So before you drop your donation in a bin, check it twice to make sure it's going to help the charity you intended.

Some charities even don't donate all of the proceeds from their collections to their causes. So before you donate, make sure you check it out.

Here are links to some websites where you can check out charities:
www.guidestar.org
www.charitynavigator.org
www.give.org