Nearly everyone is familiar with Goodwill. As we undertake decluttering and organization projects, most of us have dropped off bags of clothing, boxes of household items and electronics at Goodwill donation centers. You also may have shopped in Goodwill retail stores for clothing, books and more. (It’s one of my favorite places to find gently-used items when you don’t want to spend a lot of money.) But the Goodwill story behind the donations and stores is pretty impressive and it occurred to me that a lot of folks don’t know about all of the good work that Goodwill does.
Founded 110 years ago, Goodwill was an early pioneer of the movement to reduce/reuse/recycle. Each year the organization diverts more than two billion pounds of clothing and household goods from landfills by recovering the value in people’s unwanted material goods. Not only is the environmental impact a good one, the goods make a difference in people’s lives.
Goodwill describes their mission this way: Goodwill works to enhance the dignity and quality of life of individuals and families by strengthening communities, eliminating barriers to opportunity, and helping people in need reach their full potential through learning and the power of work.
Through its retail stores and other outlets, Goodwill brings in more than $4 billion in revenue annually. Of this, 82 percent goes directly to programs that create job-training opportunities as well as entry-level and skilled green-collar jobs for people in need. On-the-job training, career counseling and resume preparation programs served 4.2 million individuals in 2011 alone. Mel Yawn, who suffered from serious health issues and battled depression and addiction, took a job in Goodwill’s e-commerce department. He’s now been employed with Goodwill for more than four years, taking on additional responsibilities and training new employees. Mel says finding work with Goodwill was a turning point for him:
I was able to change my life around. Since I have a job, I am now able to live on my own. I use transportation through friends and a local service. I am really involved in my church, and I’m able to get out a lot more and enjoy life. Goodwill has really helped me out and opened a lot of doors for me. It’s really become more like a friendship than a job. Goodwill lives by its motto of improving people’s lives through the power of work — they’ve been doing exactly that for me.
Each donation to Goodwill has a direct impact on those served by the organization’s programs. Ten bags of donated clothing provide 12.4 hours of on-the-job training. One box of dishes plus a box of books translates to 1.4 hours of career counseling. A box of CDs, DVDs and video games equals 1.6 hours of financial planning class. To learn more about how your donations to Goodwill help provide programs for those in need, check out their Donation Impact Calculator.
So the next time you’re cleaning out closets or organizing your garage, consider donating your items to Goodwill, where they’ll make a difference to so many others in so many ways. To find a drop-off location, retail store or career support center near you, visit Goodwill’s website.
Guest author Terri Stephens is the founder and Chief Professional Organizer of Real Order Professional Organizing, LLC. Since 2003, she’s helped busy homeowners with their clutter and organizing needs in metro Atlanta and surrounding areas. Terri is also a Senior Move Manager and helps older adults and their families with later-life moves.