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!

 

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.

Don’t let gossip guide your charitable giving

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By Kim Harsch, Resource Development Coordinator

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. A time for family gatherings, warm fires, showering those we love with gifts, for cold noses and hot chocolate, and …spreading false rumors about charitable organizations? Yes, it happens each year around the holidays: negative falsehoods that spread like a California wildfire throughout social media. These rumors are designed to cover well-known nonprofits in a cloud of doubt and suspicion. Mostly, however, copied negative memes draw the focus away from those in need and reflect much more poorly on the person posting them then they do on the organization.

Why? If you post something that is not true, you admit to the general masses that you do not take the time to verify the truth and therefore WANT TO BE A NEGATIVE GOSSIPER. Yes, I said it. You want to gossip. Sorry, I know that isn’t a very Christmassy thing to say but even your elf on the shelf wouldn’t hit “post” without verifying the accuracy of such damaging information.

Bad holiday humor aside, these lies are damaging. Let me give you an example. You may have noticed on social media, the so-called “Think Before You Donate” viral rumor has been circulating. I know it’s popped up on my Facebook feed and has even been shared by a few of my friends. Here is an image of the actual meme:

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This gets shared and shared every year and every year I tell my friends again that this information is false and I give them links to properly research the information. To set the record straight on this particular rumor about Goodwill, an organization I hold so dear, no person named Mark Curran has ever been a CEO at Goodwill Industries and no one in the organization earns the $2.3 million in compensation mentioned in the rumor! Also, Goodwill is not owned by any individual, but in fact is a network of 161 community-based, autonomous nonprofit 501(c)3 organizations. The one that I work for, Goodwill Industries of West Michigan, is headquartered in Muskegon with a service territory encompassing, all or portions of, 12 surrounding counties.

All of this factual information is easily available on Goodwill’s website at http://www.goodwillwm.org. It is also verifiable through www.guidestar.org, a third party nonprofit dedicated to researching and rating charitable organizations according to their financial transparency and mission delivery. On Guidestar, you can look at each nonprofit’s actual 990 tax forms to see their revenue sources and how they are spending it. It’s an invaluable resource if you wish to make charitable donations. And it is easily accessible by anyone on the internet.

As a strong believer in Goodwill’s mission as well as an employee of Goodwill, it is incredibly frustrating and disheartening to have to combat this bogus information year after year. Time and money we spend trying to educate misinformed people only detracts from our mission.

I know most of you are aware of the positive impact our organization has on the West Michigan community. Through the revenue generated by your generous donations of household items and monetary contributions, we offer vital employment placement, job training, and support services to members of our community, including people with disabilities, ex-offenders, displaced workers, and more.

My friends who have unknowingly circulated these lies believe in helping our community and they are not thinking about the nearly 5,000 people in West Michigan our Goodwill helps each year. But those are the people affected if donations drop – not some fictitious person named Mark Curran. Remember, as a leader in our community, your voice matters. If you see the “Think Before You Donate” rumor circulating in your social networks, I hope you’ll join us in stopping negative gossip and correcting the information head on. And I hope that you will continue to help us change lives through the power of work by not letting fake news dissuade you from giving! http://bit.ly/2AGyvEe

Diversity and inclusion matters

By Kristin Garris, Organizational Development Director

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This past week, many of our Goodwill employees had the opportunity to see and hear Dr. Joy DeGruy speak to a sold-out crowd at the Frauenthal Theater in downtown Muskegon. Dr. Joy DeGruy is a renowned researcher, educator, author, and presenter who has made it her life work to be an ambassador for healing around the issues of race relations, cultural differences, and contemporary social issues.

Dr. Joy’s message rallied deep emotions as she led the audience through a historical recollection of African American culture, white privilege, and the ongoing trauma that continues in our society today. As a white female, I lean into these discussions eager to know more, but acknowledge that my perspective offers only a small glimpse into the struggles of a society that has much to learn about equality and justice. Through Dr. Joy’s teaching, personal work around understanding and acceptance, and through the efforts of Goodwill’s diversity and inclusion activities, I am hopeful that together our organization can grow, learn, and better support the communities we serve.

Goodwill Industries of West Michigan is located in the heart of Muskegon. In a city where over one third of the population is African American, 8% is Hispanic, and 5% is more than two races, we are working to better understand our diverse community so that we may serve them well. In early 2018, our organization formed the Goodwill Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. This committee — diverse in thought, race, culture, and background — has been doing some hard work around improving our understanding of implicit bias, race relations, the importance of relationships, and the powerful act of simply tilting towards love and understanding in all that we do. Our work has already started to make an impact in policy administration and (slow and steady) cultural shifts. To support our efforts further, we recently hired Julian Newman, a diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant, to help us navigate the waters together through thoughtful discussion, internal examination, and eventually institutional saturation.

Julian Newman,As we pursue Goodwill’s mission of providing work opportunities, skill development, and family strengthening to the communities we serve, we seek first and foremost to better understand those communities. Our journey will not be a short one, but we are committed to the continued learning and understanding required to positively impact the community we love.

Bring Good Home

By Liz Witzler, Marketing Director

Last Thursday, Goodwill Industries and the Ad Council launched an exciting new national campaign, “Bring Good Home,” to inspire more people to shop at Goodwill. Using humor, the cleverly crafted public service announcements illustrate how shopping at a Goodwill directly affects YOUR community by supporting our local job training and employment programs.

A lot of people don’t realize that Goodwill is made up of 161 independent local organizations across North America (with a presence in 13 other countries as well) that are all members of Goodwill Industries International. There are ten separate Goodwill organizations in Michigan alone. We are divided up geographically into designated territories … ours being West Michigan with 16 stores along the lakeshore from Manistee down to Holland. We have our own separate finances, board of directors, etc. and our programs and services vary depending on the needs of our respective communities. Bottom line is, that when you spend your dollars at your local Goodwill store those funds STAY local.

We are a charitable organization that largely funds its own mission through the sale of items that are generously donated from the community. The PSAs, created pro bono by global advertising and marketing agency Digitas, showcase the variety of unique finds available at Goodwill stores and celebrate YOU the shopper.

The campaign’s TV spot depicts Goodwill shoppers as “local heroes” by showing an entire town rallying around one indecisive shopper, encouraging her to make the purchase and erupting in celebration once she does.

The spot ends with, “When you bring home a Goodwill find, you give your whole town a reason to celebrate … because you’re also funding local job training and placement programs in tech, healthcare, and more.”

The new PSA video can be viewed here.

For more information about the programs and services Goodwill Industries of West Michigan offers, visit www.goodwillwm.org

#BringGoodHome