FORT WORTH -- The Salvation Army's home pickup service for donated goods has gone digital.The nonprofit organization makes 100 to 120 collections a day in Tarrant County and has replaced its antiquated paper system with tablet computer technology that will save time and money, officials say.It should also make the donation process easier for residents.Drivers are no longer studying stacks of paper tickets, thumbing through Mapscos for directions and talking on two-way radios, said Chad Gorick, director of operations for the Salvation Army in Fort Worth. Instead, they use refurbished tablets to access information, find direct routes and communicate with dispatchers."It's a huge improvement," Gorick said. "It is making things more efficient for our drivers and the generous people who are making donations."The Salvation Army uses 10 trucks to pick up donated items across Tarrant County and even travels as far north as Denton and as far south as Cleburne, Gorick said.The organization operates three family thrift stores in Tarrant County.Last fiscal year, the organization sold $3.8 million worth of donated items in Tarrant County, said Pat Patey, a Salvation Army spokesman.Previously, drivers got their pickup addresses on paper and used their best judgment to plot routes using map books.It was not uncommon for a driver to get lost, officials said. On the road, drivers sometimes filled their trucks with items before finishing all the pickups, meaning they had to return to the Salvation Army to unload before completing a route."Those things can cost you a lot of time and gas," Gorick said.The new system downloads pickup information onto the tablets and uses GPS technology to plot the most direct routes, according to the organization. The new system also gauges the estimated size of the items at each location to make sure that the goods don't exceed a truck's capacity.Officials say the new system will save about 25 hours a week in planning time.The organizations bought the tablets for $300 each, Patey said. However, officials expect to make up the cost quickly because the new system cuts paper and gas expenses.A new receipt system will benefit donors, officials said. Instead of paper, the organization will send donors electronic receipts to claim a deduction on their income tax. If donors lose a receipt, they can log on to a website and print a new one.Although the drivers were accustomed to the old paper system, they adjusted to the digital version quickly, Gorick said."They had even less trouble than I thought they might," he said."It's already working well."Alex Branch, 817-390-7689Twitter: @albranch1
How to donate
To schedule a donation pickup with the Salvation Army, call 817-834-6271 or visit satruck.org.