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!

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!

 

Head back-to-school with Goodwill!

By Rachael Kaminski

Okay, parents and students—we’re in the homestretch now for the back-to-school season. As far as snapping up the coolest styles and other accessories it’s now or never! Don’t let yourself get dragged into stores with long lines and high prices. Come to Goodwill instead! You’ll be able to cross every item off of your shopping list (from dorm-worthy dishes to kindergarten kicks) all in one place while at the same time bringing job opportunities into your neighborhood.

pexels-photo-225017Shopping with little ones can seem so impossible at times, but bringing them along for the ride is also the only way you can be really sure about the fit of your finds for them. So what do you do when the countdown to the first day of school is in single digits and you still don’t have what you need?

Read these super helpful tips for thrifting for your back-to-school needs from Amiyrah of the blog Four Hats & Frugal!

She’s got some bold tricks up her sleeve that will help you survive the season, kids in tow. My favorite is to give each kiddo their own cash to shop with. This will help them learn to budget and take charge of their own style. What better way to warm up their brains for school-thinking after months of summer fun? Even the littlest kids can help with this! Read her helpful back-to-school shopping tips here.

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Middle school and junior high shopping brings its own unique set of problems. Teens will probably want to pour their whole back-to-school budget into fashion pieces. But don’t let them skip the organizational elements that will streamline life between classes. 

 I’m talking about little hanging baskets, pint-sized mirrors, and other tiny items to keep their locker tidy and useful. While rushing through the hall, your student would be able to quickly swing in to swap out books, grab a new pencil, hair elastic, or calculator without having to dig around for them all. Then, with a quick peek in their hanging mirror, they’re off to their next class before the bell rings. Scope out your local Goodwill for little baskets, bins, and locker accessories like this then grab some strong magnetic hooks to keep them in place.

Check out these DIY videos on how to make your own back-to-school locker organizer, dry erase or corkboardneon shoes and much more!

Once college rolls around, the priorities and shopping needs for students change once again. And yet, Goodwill can still help. From stocking your dorm room to the off-campus apartment, Goodwill will be your best friend. Cost-effective, brand new and gently loved items will help fill your kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and living room with function and fun pieces. From pots, and pans to lamps, dressers, couches, and the best part decor! 

Check out this blog about a DIY Lamp Makeover I completed a few years ago, it’s still one of my favorites!

Goodwill can help you find much more than just back-to-school and dorm room supplies! We have part-time job opportunities and volunteer experience that can help build your resume while still going to class. We’re looking for fun, energetic part-time retail employees the help on nights and weekends. It’s the perfect opportunity to earn a little spending money! Interested? Apply online today.

Looking for volunteer, internship and work experience opportunities? Our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program is ideal for those college students. Read all about Brett’s experience as a student volunteer tax preparer. Not only did he receive a $500 stipend he also got hired right after graduation! Interested in volunteering? Call Brett at (231) 722-7871 x 1073. 

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New to Thrifting? How to shop at Thrift Stores

Do you remember your first time thrifting? The nervousness, the uncertainty — the thrill? The first trip to Goodwill® is always the start of something great, but it’s been so long since I’ve been a thrift shopper that I sometimes forget that other people might not be. I mean, I’ve literally made it my mission to study thrift culture.

So when I recently heard my friend utter the words “I’ve never been to a thrift store before,” I was in shock. I knew I had to introduce her to the awesomeness of thrift life. I offered to assist with her first foray into the racks, and being the great sport she is, she agreed.

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Credit: Jenna Pfueller

Emilie has AMAZING taste, and luckily total game for a new adventure. I always love having a person to dress instead of myself, because A) my closet is full enough and B) it’s like playing Barbies I was a kid.

We chatted a bit about her favorite brands, colors and patterns, then set off in different directions to scour the racks for some goodies to try on.

She picked out a few things she liked– a striped blouse, some jeans, a few skirts in muted colors. And I picked out a few things I thought she’d at least enjoy trying out– a floral dress, a few pairs of cute pumps, a gingham ruffle dress, and a vintage leather jacket.

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Credit: Jenna Pfueller

It wasn’t until I got into the dressing room with her and laid out our items that I understood the gravity of what was happening. Emilie confessed not only has she never been to a thrift store, one of her most recent shopping trips involved a personal stylist and complimentary champagne!  She has literally NEVER owned anything that wasn’t new. This is a HUGE step for her and I am so excited to help open the door to this new, thrifty and stylish world!

Her (first!) thrift store haul included:

  • A pair of a nude heels (BRAND NEW!)
  • A pair of jeans
  • A blouse
  • A cashmere sweater dress
  • Long sleeved tee

Total = Less than $35!

Here’s a quick Q&A with our new thrifty comrade:

Here’s a quick Q&A with our new thrifty comrade:

Q: Why hadn’t you ever been to a thrift store before? Any particular reason?

Emilie: I wouldn’t say I’m a germaphobe, I just don’t like used things. I don’t check out library books. I don’t own antiques or other secondhand furniture. I’ve never bought a used car. It honestly has never been on my radar to shop at a thrift store. Weird, right? But I donate all the things to my local Goodwill.

Q: What surprised you (if anything?) on your first foray into Goodwill?

Emilie: Well, That I actually did it and enjoyed it. That you left me alone to shop and I didn’t walk back out. It was not how I imagined it to be. The vastness! I expected it to smell like my grandmother’s closet of mothballs, but it didn’t. I expected the clothing selection to be mostly 70s jumpsuits or other Halloween-appropriate attire. I saw none. I saw name brands! And clothes that appeared freshly washed (they aren’t) because I was surprised at how well cared-for mostly everything appeared. I loved listening to and talking with the employees, each one incredibly personable and hard working. Let’s be honest, it was all one great big surprise.

Q: What were you most excited about?

Emilie: Barely worn nude name brand heels! And $3 jeans, say what?! The most recent pair of jeans I purchased was $250. This single mom can get excited about that cost savings. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to Say Yes. Shopping with you was a fun and memorable experience, something I ordinarily wouldn’t have done. It’s a nice reminder to try new things because (as Daniel Tiger says), you might just like it!

Q: Show us a pic of your favorite find and tell us a little about why you liked it.

Emilie: I have never had a (cashmere!) sweater dress. I get lost in the bulk and boxiness of the cowl neck. This one offsets my booty work at the gym and the short (yikes!) length well enough to give it a try! And all the heart eyes for those shoes. Also, who says to avoid horizontal stripes now?

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Credit: @photoemilie

DIY Projects for the Perfect Summer Party

By Julia Marchand

It’s July, which means that it’s prime time for backyard parties. With longer hours of sunshine and soft breezes to offer relief from the heat (and from the bugs!), I find myself looking for an excuse to stay outside as long as possible. I’ve also recently found a few super fun DIY party projects that I am eager to try out. Who’s got a birthday coming up? I may need to throw you the perfect backyard summer fiesta.

Image via DesignImprovised.com

Before the big event, a little party prep is required. The menu will be set and the décor planned, but it’s the little extra touches – like presentation – that really set the tone. That’s why I love these embellished serving trays decorated by Haeley of Design Improvised (one of Goodwill Industries of San Antonio’s official bloggers!). With just a little paint, thrifted trays go from blah to BAM! and they don’t break the bank either.

Image via Blog.GoodwillSC.org

For a little celebration style, these easy party hats are a must. The template is available via Goodwill Industries of Upstate/Midlands South Carolina, and, of course, the faux flowers can be found in Goodwill stores! Even if your friends are just popping by after work, topping them with a cap like this will instantly transform them into party mode. You could even have guests make their own as an activity to keep hands busy while the conversation flows.

Image via StyleMePretty.com

What’s a party without gifts? You know how it works for a birthday or shower, but even a just-for-fun party can be amped up with favors. I am constantly seeing embroidery hoops at my local Goodwill stores, so when I spotted these DIY tambourines made from the hoops on Style Me Pretty I just loved the idea of trying it out for myself. I actually already have a whole bunch of lace that I found once while thrifting so it would be almost effortless for me to whip up some of these cuties to hand out to guests.

If all of this sounds great, but you’re looking for a reason to celebrate, how about this: Every 27 seconds of every business day, a person served by Goodwill earns a good job. Every 3 seconds, another person accesses Goodwill opportunities to build careers and strong families. So many people around the world are struggling to support their families so Goodwill’s successes are truly something to applaud. And you’re helping, too, just by shopping at their retail stores. Keep up the great work and make sure you enjoy the summer before it’s over!

 

Making the most of your summer

How do you know when you’re doing summer right? Simple. When you’re spending as much time outside every day as possible and saving money on your summertime essentials. If you live in a place that celebrates all four seasons, there’s just something so special about the summer. We shiver through winter dreaming of sunlit afternoons lounging on the lawn, so we owe it to ourselves to take full advantage of these radiant days.

Image from Goodwilltips.blogspot.com

Here at Goodwill®, we would love to help you make the most of your summer. Let’s start with attire, shall we? For some women, summer means dressing in less to keep cool, but feeling uncomfortable doing so. Don’t feel discouraged, ladies! It isn’t just you. The truth is that most women have some insecurities once their summer skin starts to show. But every body type has a flattering fit; it’s finding it that can be the challenge. Happily, Goodwill Industries of Michiana (South Bend, IN) has done the work for you – at least where shorts are concerned. Check out their recent post on finding the best shorts for your body type, and embrace those summertime vibes!

Image from Goodwillakron.org

Now that you’ve pinned down a summer clothing solution and you’re feeling a little more comfortable, let’s head outside! Of course, hitting the beach, hiking and biking are all viable options for August activities, but let’s not underestimate the relaxing qualities of gardening in your own backyard! Goodwill Industries of Akron (OH) nailed it with this post that shares four ways to repurpose thrifted items into planters. Our favorite is the bundt-pan-turned-floral-centerpiece. The umbrella post goes right through the center of the pan to hold it in place – Brilliant!

Other by Indianapolis Furniture & Accessories Upholstery Club’s Shelly Leer. Image from Houzz.com.

But why step inside after the sun goes down? You don’t have to if you follow this DIY tutorial from Houzz.com. With a quick trip to your local Goodwill and a hardware store, you can put together a dreamy solar-powered table lamp like this and enjoy summer breezes well into the night.

While you’re browsing your local Goodwill in search of the perfect shorts, planters or lamps, keep in mind that it is just one of 164 independent, community-based Goodwill agencies in the United States and Canada that provide employment training, job placement services and other community-based services to 9.8 million people annually. Your purchases are making that mission possible! Enjoy saving money and making the most of your summer. We still have more than a month to go!