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

DSC_0265.JPG

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!

Celebrate America Recycles Day

By James Cherney, Retail Operations Director

This Sunday — in recognition of America Recycles Day — clean out your closets and donate your unwanted clothing and other household items to Goodwill.

Did you know every time you donate to Goodwill you are recycling? Recycling isn’t only separating the paper and plastic, it’s extending the life of things you no longer need.

Every item you donate or purchase at a Goodwill store, is one less item thrown into the landfill. It’s instant recycling! The fact is, Goodwill was “green” before it became the trend that it is today. It was founded on the business model of selling donated items and we are proud of our commitment to helping the environment.

All our recycling really adds up! Last year alone we reused and recycled 10,312,095 pounds of material, and that doesn’t even include our recycled and refurbished electronic waste. Last year we diverted 1,291,967 pounds of electronic waste from the waste steam.

Recycling begins when someone makes a donation. Most of the time items pass our inspection and are tagged, hung, and ready to be sold. Other times items might not meet our quality standards (stains, holes, missing buttons) and are unable to be sold in our stores. The items are then sold to various third-party recyclers. Some items will be repurposed into new items like insulation or filling for furniture like chairs and couches.

We also manufacturer industrial wipers (“GoodWipers”) from unsaleable clothing. Our cotton tee-shirts and sweatshirts are sorted and cut into rags for use in machine shops, auto garages, manufacturers and more. The wipers are made by Goodwill program participants with disabilities and are paid an hourly wage.

Most importantly your donated items fund our mission of providing work opportunities and skill development to people with disabilities and other disadvantages.

So why not help people in your community — as well as the environment — and shop at and donate to Goodwill.

First sign of spring = Younkers Goodwill Sale

By Jim Cherney, Retail Operations Director

Each year – as we anticipate the end to our long, cold, Michigan winter and our donation stream trickles to a drip – we are blessed with the Younkers Goodwill Spring Sale. It is the much-needed, early March boost we can count on to lift our weary spirits!

This year, the sale kicks off on March 13 and runs through Saturday March 29. It’s the perfect incentive to inspire folks to start cleaning out their closets with the thawing of the snow and warmer days ahead.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the sale, it works like this: anyone donating to Goodwill during this two-and-a-half week period – either at a Goodwill store or Younkers – receives a 25% off Younkers coupon for each item donated. Donate six items and you get six coupons. Donate 25 items? Get 25 coupons! (You get the idea.) And the coupons are good toward items that rarely (if ever) go on sale.

Donors are not only rewarded with discounts on new spring items, but they help make a difference in our community by supporting Goodwill’s mission of job training and placement programs for people who need helping finding a job.

Savvy Goodwill shoppers also know that this is an excellent time to shop at Goodwill as a new crop of high-quality donations begin to refill our stores.

We are so grateful to Younkers and their ongoing support and belief in our mission. Held each spring and fall, the sale is the largest and longest-standing department store donation drive with Goodwill. Since its inception in 1994, the cause-marketing collaboration has generated an estimated value of more than $211 million in revenue to support Goodwill’s employment services.

So what are you waiting for? Start cleaning out your closets. Spring will be here before you know it!

For even more discounts, and a chance to win prizes, visit Younkers’ Million Acts of Goodwill website at Millionactsofgoodwill.com.