Good people doing good at Goodwill

By Kimberly Harsch, Resource Development Coordinator

Last Saturday I was fortunate to be part of Goodwill’s first book sorting volunteer day in partnership with Read Early. Read Often. (RERO). Our goal was to get 500 gently used books in the hands of disadvantaged grade school children in Muskegon County. I was not prepared for the generous events that would unfold.

Goodwill President and CEO Jeanette Hoyer wants to help improve literacy rates for kids in our community where less than 40% of students reach adequate literacy level by third grade. Literacy directly affects education. And education is a pipeline to high wages, and a powerful tool in the fight to end poverty. Literacy improves when kids have books. And Goodwill has plenty to give.

We quickly found a strong partner in Allison Keessen at RERO who when asked if she could use free books responded, “Boy could we ever!”

We knew we needed to inspect, clean, and sort the books first. This takes manpower. RERO recruited 28 volunteers made up of high school students from “Reading Buddies United” which is comprised of area high school students from four schools: Orchard View, Oakridge, Mona Shores, and Muskegon. There were also volunteers from Rotary Interact, Pathfinders of Muskegon, and United Way of the Lakeshore.

On the day of book sorting at Goodwill’s headquarters in Muskegon, the positive energy was everywhere. Volunteers laughed, danced, and did the work while learning more about each other. Every once in an “Oh! I LOVED this book!” arose above the chatter and volunteers would rush to celebrate the title.

Two hours flew by in a flash. As we were packing up, I heard some of the kids talk about books that THEY were taking for their communities. Some were for book drives at school or for reading to grade schoolers. Nefertoria from Pathfinders of Muskegon took nearly 200 books to deliver on the streets. “I fill my trunk and when I open it, kids come running for books,” she said.

As we closed our first day together, Allison did a final book tally … 1,333 books were ready to go! These will be distributed wherever kids need them. Jeanette closed the day with a warm “thank you” for this group of generous people who truly are helping us “Change lives through the power of [their] work.”

If you would like to volunteer, or have locations that could use books for children contact Kim Harsch of Goodwill at (231) 722-7871, x1057.

For more information visit our website!

32 Goodwill Outlet FAQs and shopping tips

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By Nanci Penland, Goodwill Outlet and Store Manager

The wait is finally over! Our new outlet store in Muskegon is open for business.

Rolling up your sleeves and sifting through unsorted textiles and wares isn’t for everyone, but avid thrifters LOVE discovering hidden gems and the low, low price.

IMG_7369.jpgIf you’ve never visited a Goodwill outlet, you are in for an experience. Serving as a “last chance” clearinghouse for our donated goods, items are placed unsorted in large bins and sold by the pound. The bins are rotated with fresh content throughout the day.

If outlet shopping isn’t your cup of tea, visit our regular retail store right next door in the same building!20191113_141234.jpg

Goodwill Outlet Shopping Tips

  • Bring bags or boxes to transport your purchases home.
  • Wear sturdy gloves when sorting through merchandise due to potential sharp objects.
  • For your safety, when merchandise bins are rolled onto the sales floor, please move out of the way. Please stand back until a Goodwill team member indicates “okay to shop” before approaching the bins.
  • The outlet is strictly “cash and carry” meaning we cannot hold or set aside your items. If shopping for furniture or other large items, please make sure you have a vehicle that can transport your purchases at the time of sale.
  • Monitor your cart and personal belongings! You are responsible for safeguarding.
  • Test electronics in designated areas.
  • Bring batteries to test toys and measuring tape if purchasing furniture.
  • Be patient and be courteous to fellow shoppers.
  • If bringing children, please do not leave them unsupervised; they must be accompanied by an adult.
  • If you plan on visiting our regular store afterwards (located next door!), please take your purchased items to your car first.
  • Clean your treasures when you get home. Wash what you can in hot water and use disinfectant wipes on toys, books, and other items. Rent a steam cleaner at your local hardware store to deep clean soft furniture.

20191113_155344Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Goodwill outlet?
The Goodwill outlet serves as a last-chance clearinghouse for items that did not sell at our 17 Goodwill Industries of West Michigan stores after a four-week period of time on the shelf. Wonderful bargains can be found!

How is the outlet different from a traditional Goodwill store?
Visiting a Goodwill outlet is a very different experience from shopping a regular store. Items are not sorted, hung, or organized but rather offered on large rolling tables for shoppers to sift through. Items are sold priced by the pound at a deep discount. Furniture and oversized items are individually priced. It’s the perfect experience for the bargain hunter who likes to roll up their sleeves.

How does the outlet operate?
Unsorted clothing and other merchandise are put on rolling tables and rotated on and off the sales floor throughout the day offering continuous fresh selections. Shoppers place items in a shopping cart that is then weighed on a floor scale.

What is the pricing?
Clothes, shoes, toys, electronics, glassware, and household goods are sold at $1.29 per pound. Furniture and other oversized items are priced individually.

What happens to merchandise not sold at the outlet?
Items not sold during their time on the sales floor are then responsibly recycled or sold to a recycling partner.

Is the merchandise sorted?
No. Items are heaped unsorted onto rolling carts.

How do my items get weighed?
Shoppers place their cart onto a floor scale and the weight of the cart is subtracted.

Does the outlet supply bags for purchased items?
Goodwill does provide some boxes but we encourage shoppers to bring their own bags.

What payment methods are allowed?
Cash or credit cards are accepted; checks are not.

Can I return items purchase at the outlet?
All items are sold as-is and there are no returns.

Do you accept donations at the outlet?
Not in the outlet itself, but there is a convenient donation drive-thru in the same building.

Are Goodwill vouchers accepted?
No

Where is the outlet located?
1501 East Apple Avenue in Muskegon Township right next to US-31

What are the days/hours of operation?
The outlet is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information visit our website!

Becoming The Addams Family

We reached out to local Goodwill superfan Kendra Stanley-Mills and offered her a challenge … transform your family into The Addams Family using donated items purchased at Goodwill stores. Below are her amazing results. Special thanks to her accommodating family … Yuri, Harper, and husband Jon Mills.

Becoming The Addams Family

By Kendra Stanley-Mills

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To transform the Mills Family into the Addams Family was a fun adventure. The first thing we did was to peruse the Internet to find some good photos that gave us a general idea of what to look for at Goodwill.

Pugsley’s costume was the easiest. Truly all we did was look for a black and white horizontal striped shirt. We had everything else at home. The shirt was a ladies shirt which 100% humiliated our son but I told him no one could truly tell.

Wednesday’s costume was just a basic black dress (super easy to find at any Goodwill) and then I found a white collared shirt (also super easy to find.) I cut off the collar and sewed that onto the black dress. We found black loafers but we did splurge and bought new white Bobbysocks at Target because all we could find were athletic socks at Goodwill. Our daughter is a redhead so we bought some black temporary hair color to make her fit the part a bit more. I added some lighter foundation to her face to make her look a bit pale.

We couldn’t find a full pinstriped suit for Gomez but we settled for a dark pair of dress pants and a striped suit coat. We already had a white shirt and then we looked and looked for a solid black bowtie or necktie (honestly, this was the most difficult item to find – who knew?!) With an added fake mustache (which were actually fake eyebrows but we reinvented them) and some extra hair gunk to slick back Jon’s hair, he fit the part. All we needed was a cigar (oops, we forgot!) so we improvised with a beef stick.

Goodwill items I used to create the costumes are listed below.

Addam's FamilyMorticia Addams:

  • red rose from Whitehall Goodwill ($.80)
  • long black dress from Norton Shores Goodwill ($5.99)
  • black dress from Norton Shores Road Goodwill ($5.99)
  • wore shoes I already owned
  • red nail polish I already owned
  • bought red lipstick from Target

Addam's Family

Wednesday Addams:

  • white collared shirt from Whitehall Road Goodwill ($3.99)
  • black dress from Norton Shores Goodwill ($5.99)
  • black shoes from Whitehall Goodwill ($4.00)
  • bought white dress bobby socks from Target
  • bought black temporary hair color from Target
  • “Thing” we already owned

Addam's Family

Pugsley Addams:

  • striped shirt from Muskegon–Sherman Goodwill ($1.99)
  • black shorts that we already owned
  • black shoes we already owned
  • black socks borrowed from mom
  • pillow stuffing used to create a belly that we already had at home

Addam's Family

Gomez Addams:

  • black dress pants from Whitehall Goodwill ($3.99)
  • striped suit coat from Norton Shores Goodwill ($7.99)
  • facial mustache from Whitehall Goodwill ($1.45)
  • black tie from Whitehall Goodwill ($2.00)
  • white shirt we already owned
  • black shoes we already owned
  • “Cigar” was a beef stick

Total Goodwill cost: $44.18

The Addams family promotes Goodwill for Halloween costumes!

This Halloween, Goodwill® is partnering with MGM Studios for the upcoming release of The Addams Family movie coming to theaters October 11. The first family of Halloween is providing us a fun thematic opportunity to promote Goodwill as the place to find unique and authentic costumes.

Enter our costume contest!

Contest runs Oct. 18- 31.

RULES:
1) Create a one-of-a-kind costume using items purchased at Goodwill.
2) Post a photo of your DIY costume creation on our Facebook page with a description of what you created.
3) The costume must be created in 2019.
4) The participant must be a resident of West Michigan

Prizes: $50 Goodwill Store Gift Card for each category – Best Adult Costume, Best Child Costume (under age 18), Best Group / Couple Costume

*Gift cards are only good at Goodwill Industries of West Michigan locations.

Check out our Facebook event for all the details!

Goodwill finds for fall

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By Rachael Kaminski, Goodwill Marketing Specialist

With the cooler breezes blowing in, many of us are dreaming of cozy boots, and mulled wine. Yum! Schools are in session, and Halloween is right around the corner, which makes now the perfect time to refresh your wardrobe, and deck out your home for fall. As each season arrives, it’s nice to bring in a few newly thrifted pieces to keep things current, so here’s what I’ve got my eye out for this year…

Western-inspired looks are perhaps the biggest trend to come from fall 2019.

Boot-cut jeans, Western boots, rancher hats, and oh… you can’t forget about an oversized belt buckle to complete your urban cowgirl look. Now just remember you don’t have to wear everything “Western-inspired” in one outfit. Try incorporating one or two Southwestern-inspired pieces into your fall look.

20190912_120519 (1)You’ll see plenty of animal prints this fall, but none more popular than the snake print. HuffPost is predicting “you’ll see snake print boots, belts, purses, and snake print clothes everywhere this season.” Think of it as the next neutral of your closet.

I found these pointy-toed snakeskin looking heels, perfect for the office at our Muskegon Store on Sherman Blvd., for only $4.00! Thrift score!

Here are a few of the Fall 2019 colors to look out for while shopping at Goodwill. I’m going to attempt to step out of my comfort zone, and work on incorporating more of the Autumn-Winter 2019 / 2020 color palate into my outfits. What color do you think you try?

Plaid for fall? How groundbreaking! Still, if you’re looking for a few statement pieces to dress up your fall wardrobe, I’ve spotted a variety in different colors, and patterns. From plaid jumpsuits to ponchos, this is a fall look that won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

Now on to the decor! 

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Goodwill is my FAVORITE place to spruce up my fall decor! I love trying new to you items that won’t break the bank. From candle holders to pillows, wreaths, and faux flowers, the opportunities are endless. Check out our Pinterest boards  Thrift Store Makeover and DIY Fall Decor for some inspiration.

Want to know a little secret? Baskets, ceramics, and wooden decorations can easily be updated to match any color scheme. Whether you are wanting to incorporate the new Autumn color palate that I discussed earlier, or something more classic like black, and white, these type of decorations can all be customized with a can or two of spray paint! My whole home is different variations of teal, and turquoise even with my fall décor. So after seeing these wooden baskets, and pumpkins at Goodwill last week, I wish I would have picked them up, and spray painted them to add to my collection.

TURQUOISE FALL DECOR

Don’t have buyer’s remorse like me. Remember, if you don’t get the item it will be gone the next time to go back. That’s the beauty of Goodwill … it’s a treasure hunt, and you never know what you’ll find!

And should you find that you want to clear out some old and unused fall decorations or clothing while you’re adding in your newly thrifted pieces, remember you can donate those items to Goodwill. They will help someone find a job, strengthen our community, and preserve the planet. That ensures that while you start fresh for this new season, someone else gets to as well. Happy fall thrifting to all!

 

Go on vacation- at Goodwill!

Feeling a bit of spring break travel FOMO? Or perhaps dreaming of a vacation that may not be in the cards on this year’s budget? I know I am. Just a few minutes on social media lately has me seriously jealous of the warmer climes. Never fear. As usual, Goodwill® has us covered. Just one trip can have you looking and feeling like an international jet setter.

Don’t believe me? It’s road-trip worthy in it’s own right. But also, thrift stores are a souvenir treasure-trove and a hub of international style and decor options. Finding a little style inspiration is all you need to make you feel like you’re counting the days until your own relaxing adventure. Just check out Instagram for lots of awesome vacay style looks you can keep in mind as you peruse the Goodwill aisles.

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Credit: @ashleerosehartley

Sometimes the swimwear section is easy to forget at Goodwill, but trust me, there are treasures there to be had as well. Often overlooked, this is a great place to find a second tankini top to match the bottoms you love or a suit in a style you’ve been dying to try out without the hefty price tag. These Goodwill finds below are proof you can bring a splash of the Caribbean to any pool party, even if it’s just sippin’ lemonade in a kiddie pool on your patio.

vacation-2Credit: @kayjackhan

I also just love finding items that somehow found their way into my local Goodwills from far-flung places. Little bits of vintage souvenir flair in the form of t-shirts, mugs or artwork makes me feel a little more connected, and give my home a little more of that jet setter vibe. It’s especially fun if it’s a place I’ve already been and have fond memories of.

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Credit: @DamnFineCoffeeMugs

Or handmade little pieces like this that give your home a little taste of distant cultures and major travel lust.

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Credit: Jenna Pfueller

Are you lucky enough to actually be headed somewhere to kick back and relax? Good on ya!

Obviously, you’ll need to make a point to visit a Goodwill when you get to your destination, too. Just search our site for locations and make a date of it. It’s a perfect way to get to know the local culture a bit more, find something you may have forgotten while packing, and of course, a perfect little something to remember your trip with so you have plenty of moolah for the ride home.

See? It’s easy to take a vacation at Goodwill. It’s a respite that’s always full of surprises, inspiration, fun, sustainability, and even creates jobs. Now that’s a true destination to embrace!

Thrifty Springtime Room Refresh

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All winter I look forward to opening the windows when spring arrives so I can feel that first fresh breeze blow through. It’s such an inspiring feeling that I wanted to capture it to enjoy year-round. Well, I can’t do that. But I can give my bedroom a refresh that reminds me of it! Read on to find out how I brought a spring-like feel to my bedroom to keep that cheerful mood all year.

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When I look at the before picture of my bedroom I think “Yikes! Does someone even live there?” It’s an oddly shaped room which presents its own challenges and it has never felt cozy. Having spent forever on the back burner to our other home projects, it was clearly time for a new look. A fresh start for spring.

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I started this revamp the same way that I start every organization or cleaning spree—by pulling out everything I don’t like about a space. I eye and assess each item as I go. If I don’t need something and don’t like it, I’ll toss it in the donate bin. If I do need something (like all of the fabrics that are hiding in the paper bag in the before photo), but hate the way it looks, I remove it temporarily until I can come back with a solution. Whatever’s left after I sift through everything will serve as the foundation upon which I build a new decor scheme so I try to look at what’s left with fresh, objective eyes before I go out shopping.

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The solution for the fabric pile ended up coinciding with one spring-like theme I knew I wanted to bring in: picnicking. It was easy to capture the mood of this fun spring activity by adding in basket-weave textures so that was one of the first shelves I swung by on my latest Goodwill trip. Both of the winnowing baskets that I hung on the wall plus the large basket that is now home to my fabrics jumped right out at me. Fabric storage problem solved! Picnic mood accomplished. The rest of my issues pretty much sorted themselves out as I updated the space using these room refresh tips…

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Tip 1: Bring in spring colors. First, I removed the heavy, dark colors that were clouding up my bedroom. Of course pastels are a spring staple, so I knew I wanted to include more pink and light blue when I was ready to add things back in. Two easy ways to do this are with books and blankets. You can’t have too many of either! I never skip the book section of my local Goodwill for exactly this reason. Books can be displayed in so many beautiful ways and they’re entertainment at the same time!

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Tip 2: Shop your own home! Although you will need to bring in a few new (to you) pieces for the space to feel really fresh, you can first walk around your house looking for the right colors or items to rehome. If you don’t absolutely love something where it is, try it in the room you’re reworking. I do this a lot and end up seeing new potential in items that I never saw before! For example, you may recognize the little ceramic bunny from a previous post. I got it from Goodwill last year, but rabbits are so perfect for spring that I wanted to try it in my room. I did a little brainstorming and realized that with some antlers (which I made from Sculpee), a shallow thrifted bowl, and glue it could become a bedside jackalope ring holder. It’s a giggle and good storage all at once.

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Tip 3: Add height for an uplifting feeling. If you look at the before and after photos, you can actually see the room rise a little after being restyled. Just by adding height to the arrangement on the right side of the headboard, putting the winnowing baskets up, and fluffing/bringing in more pillows, the room feels lighter and more uplifting. I thrifted the green lamp from Goodwill years ago and added that floral fabric to the shade myself. It worked in the space where it originally lived in our old apartment, but it has never felt right in this home. So, for this room refresh I peeled the old fabric off and replaced it with a fresh white. It felt so cramped down in that nook where it was. Moving it up shows it off so much better and elevates the space!

Tip 4: Bring in plants and flowers (even if they’re fake). Rooms feel instantly more alive with greenery and blooms, so I made sure to include some in this refresh. I already had the faux flowers on the left side of the headboard, but I brought in two real plants as well and they made a huge difference! There’s nothing more exemplary of spring.

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Tip 5: Soften the surfaces. Another important piece that improved my room was the addition of more plush surfaces. In the picture above you can see two whole shelves of throw rugs at my local Goodwill. There was another shelf under it filled with even more plus rug pads, too. I had been looking for a runner to go at the foot of my bed, but nothing felt quite right until I realized I could use two slightly overlapping mats for the same effect! These coupled with my new pillows made the place feel so much more inviting.

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Speaking of pillows, the pink one is another DIY! My Goodwill always has fun throw pillows for sale. While browsing, I almost bought this light gray one from Calvin Klein, but ended up skipping it in favor of more color. Neutrals are fantastic, but I knew I already had enough in this room. So I set my sights on the fabric racks to make my own instead. Thrifting fabric is definitely the cheapest way to sew and it’s a trick I’ve relied on for years! You can sometimes find entire bolts of fabric (look to the right of the rug shelves up above!), but even if you only repurpose pillow cases or bed sheets that you thrift, you’ll have plenty of yardage to work with. This time, I went with a pretty peachy pink to make my new pillow cover.

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Envelope pillow covers (sometimes called pocket pillow covers) are so easy to make with basic sewing skills. You use one piece of fabric for the front of the pillow, and two pieces for the back that are both wider than the width of the pillow so they overlap. Stitch all around the outside, slide the pillow insert within the center pocket, and you’re done! I added a quick Swiss cross (cut from scrap fabric) to the front of mine just for fun. It’s not perfect, but it was quick and easy! You could also use felt if you want a no-stress way to keep it from fraying over time.

 

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The last DIY that I did to refresh my space is a little yarn wall-hanging. The idea popped into my mind when I was poking through Goodwill and saw the wooden bar the yarn is hanging from. I still have no idea what this actually is (there were a bunch of them!), but I had to grab two because I knew I could do something neat with them. They match my headboard and floors well and I needed new decor on my walls. This was perfect. Here’s how you can make one, too:

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Wrap yarn around a book the same number of times for each bundle to ensure consistency in length and thickness. Always start and end your yarn at the bottom of the book, then cut the entire bundle there when you’re done. Pinch the top of the bundle—this will be the exact middle—then tie it onto whatever you’d like as demonstrated above. I used a skewer so I could hang it below the wooden bar, but you could put it on almost anything. I also added a ribbon to two bunches then braided it all together for a little extra texture. Trim the bottoms as you see fit and hang! I can’t wait to try this technique out on an embroidery hoop instead of a straight stick. There are so many possibilities!

Don’t forget that one little room refresh like this makes a huge impact outside your four walls. How? Goodwill® organizations collect clothes, electronics and household goods (in the form of your donations!) and then use the revenues from the sales to create employment placement and job training programs. These help many people in local communities with skill building and job search services such as computer classes, job transportation, mock interviews, dress etiquette, and résumé writing. So while it seems like a thrifty room redo is just a fresh start for one room in your home, it’s also a fresh start for someone in your community.

Decluttering the Goodwill way

With the recent wave of interest about decluttering and purging going on across America, and like many of you, I am SO HERE for it. 

While decluttering our home is so satisfying in so many ways, I feel like we’re in a unique cultural moment where donating and shopping are intersecting in so many positive ways with people.

Yes, you can declutter and donate your stuff. AWESOME!

Yes, you can make your life better, and in the process, help Goodwill improve the lives of others in your community at the same time. AMAZING!

But what I think is often overlooked that now is also PRIME time to not just drop-off all your items at Goodwill, but POP-IN to the Goodwill near you to see how you can make all that decluttering work you’ve done really take hold and last.

I’ve been making weekly donation trips in the last few months and it feels SO good, but this week all that decluttering karma came back to me ten-fold.

Like a lot of parents, my kid’s rooms are often a vortex of clutter that seems impossible to keep in check. The shelf currently in use in their room had also been a Goodwill find years ago, but it was bringing me happiness long before I had kids and a house full of tiny bedrooms. So after culling some clothing, books, and toys from their room and donating them at my local Goodwill this week, I drove around front and popped in to see if anything got me excited.

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When I spotted two tall red bookshelves being set out on the sales floor, my heart went ZING! This was the PERFECT piece to replace the ill-fitting shelving unit in their space, it matched the room’s decor, and would allow them to see their books much easier when picking our bedtime stories each night. I had made do with our old shelf for years until I found the perfect solution, and today was the day it appeared before me.

Just $8 each!

I couldn’t grab them fast enough. With one hand I carried them to the front, hardly believing my luck. Between the back of the store and checkout, at least two other shoppers congratulated me on my find. It felt like walking forward on stage after winning a beauty pageant.

marie-kondo-2Now came the tricky part. Pushing them into my car proved much more challenging than I hoped. Luckily after years of having a small car with two large car seats, I’m used to getting creative.
One of the reasons I love thrift stores so much is the sense of camaraderie among shoppers– something you just don’t get anywhere else. So in true thrift form, another shopper came out and seeing my conundrum, offered some advice on creative angles to try and squish it in. When it proved ineffective, she quickly went to her car and dug up a bungee cord to give me. It wasn’t the perfect solution, but it got me and my shelves home.
Success!marie-kondo-3Here is the result of my  Goodwill find, complete with de-cluttered space. SO MUCH ZING!marie-kondo-4So when your friend mention they’re decluttering their homes, don’t forget to remind them that donating does so much more than get their unwanted items new homes, it also gives people in our communities a hand up, and perhaps something they donate will end up in YOUR cart the next time you go in.