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Clothing left at TSA checkpoints could be given to veterans

August 07, 2012|By Richard Simon
  • A TSA agent checks an ID under a sensor in Terminal 1 at Los Angeles International Airport.
A TSA agent checks an ID under a sensor in Terminal 1 at Los Angeles International… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

WASHINGTON -- Congress is eyeing not only the loose change that harried travelers leave behind at airport checkpoints but also the unclaimed clothing.

Legislation awaiting House action would require the Transportation Security Administration to distribute unclaimed clothing to homeless or needy veterans and their families in addition to turning over unclaimed money to the USO for its airport programs in support of the military.

"As the American people rush through airports every week, it is not uncommon for scarves, hats and other articles of clothing to be left at TSA security checkpoints,’’ Rep. Kathy Hochul (D-N.Y.) wrote her colleagues, seeking support for her Clothe a Homeless Hero Act. "This adds up to thousands of pounds of abandoned clothes annually.’’

While TSA knows that travelers left behind $376,480.39 in the 2010 fiscal year, the agency could not immediately say how much clothing went unclaimed, and what happened to it.

"I, in fact, know they have at least one scarf, because I lost my scarf through the screening a few months ago,’’ Hochul said at a committee hearing.

About 75,000 veterans are homeless on any given night, she said.

The House Homeland Security Committee this year gave bipartisan approval to a measure that directs TSA to distribute the unclaimed money to the USO and unclaimed clothing to needy veterans. But Hochul has separately introduced legislation to provide for distribution of the unclaimed clothing.

During a recent meeting, she noted that TSA and many airports already have made an effort to donate unclaimed clothing and other items to charity.

John Supry, manager of the New Hampshire state and federal surplus property program, said his office usually picks up four to six bags full of unclaimed clothing four times a year from airports, mostly belts. "So don’t forget your belt next time you fly,’’ he said.

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richard.simon@latimes.com

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